“There’s a lot of demands that I think the school puts on students, and parents put on students, and students put on themselves and that’s kind of a perfect storm,” says Oyster River High School psychology teacher Brian Zottoli.
It’s no secret that the halls and classrooms of ORHS can have a tendency to be filled with stressed out students. Between balancing high academic standards, competitive sports teams, and enough extracurriculars to fill out every last line on the Common App, ORHS students can often become unsurprisingly stressed. But what are students doing to positively and effectively manage this stress? One example is a project Zottoli does every semester with his psychology classes called the “Stress Reduction Plan.” Students choose something to change or start doing in order to better manage their stress over the course of two weeks. Some examples of these stress-reducing activities are writing in a planner, going for a walk, and breaking down assignments for better time management. The ideas are as plentiful as a teenager’s mind can think of. Here are some ideas to get you started on better managing your stress.
Kelsey Wiles (‘19) says, “it [my stress] tends to follow me throughout the entire day.” Wiles describes a common phenomenon of a “phantom stress ghost” following her around as she go through her everyday routine. In order to manage this stress, Wiles likes to do yoga. She says, “I like the way that yoga separates me from the stressors of my life because it’s a time that has no connection to school, so it has a different vibe. I like the way that yoga provokes different ways of thinking about things. I like the way yoga makes me feel because it’s freeing and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.” If you’re looking for a way to destress and get some exercise in as well, yoga is a great option for you. You may even run into Mr. Kelly, an avid yogi himself, while you’re at it!
Singing, Acting, and Dancing
Sarah Corrow (‘17) says, “I would give my stress level an 8 out of 10 on a school day.” Corrow describes some stressors in her life, including friends, friend drama, school, especially math, and parents. “When I get stressed out, I usually sing, which sounds weird. I’ll just be sitting in the living room or kitchen and I’ll just sing quietly to myself. It kind of just helps me think of something else and get my mind off of stress. It takes my mind somewhere else.” Corrow also mentions some other artistic ways she relieves stress. She said, “Another huge thing that helps me is doing theater. It helps staying focused on the drama department and stuff like that. I think my favorite thing about it is that there’s kind of a therapeutic aspect about it where it’s kind of a safe space where you can go and let out all your emotions, whether it be acting, dancing, or singing.”
Phoebe Lovejoy (‘19) uses running as a destresser. She runs cross country in the fall, and does track in the winter and spring. She says, “running is really good because it’s known to be good destresser but it’s also just having that reliability of doing something every day after school that I know I enjoy with friends, just getting my emotions out through running and getting all my energy out so that I can focus on my schoolwork.” Obviously, running 5 miles a day isn’t something you can likely dive right into. If you’re interested in starting to run as a destresser, you could start by running one mile a day, slowly increasing your mileage until you’re running at the level you desire. Running is also great because of the fact that with the right amount of layers, you can do it any time of the year, anywhere. It’s something you can continue doing throughout your whole life.
Aidan Yoder (‘17) says that when he is stressed, often by school, he enjoys getting outside and doing activities in the wilderness. “Often times I’ll go for a walk in the woods, sometimes I’ll go for a run in the local wooded area….I’ll kind of just let my mind wander rather than focusing on what’s stressing me out.” Yoder has started some projects in the woods, including constructing a log cabin. He says, “A few years back, I decided that I would build a cabin in the woods. Eventually we found out the cabin was very illegal to make, but it was an extreme destress mechanism. I could just go out there, cut wood and get my anger out and use my ax and whatnot.” Even though this structure was taken down, Yoder did not stop creating. He has created a new, more legal area in place of the cabin. Since then I’ve created a new peaceful area, I’ve built a large fire pit in the area that the cabin was, and a nice sitting area. It’s a nice place to go up and destress and think about what’s going on in life.”
Abby Croot (‘18) often does art to manage and relieve her stress. With such a large art department at ORHS, and amazing art teachers to boot, it’s easy to get involved in art. It’s important to treat art as a relaxing activity, not a stress inducer. As Croot says, “Art is stress relieving as long as the art itself isn’t stressful.” Croot describes some of the different art forms that she likes to do. ‘‘I usually just do abstract work, or I work with clay because with clay you can use manual anger and actually hammer stuff to get physical anxiety out.” She adds, “for paintings, it’s very loose and carefree and I get to work on intricate things.” Croot even did the artwork for this article! Whether your preference is painting, pottery, something in between, or something completely different, there’s bound to be an art form perfect for you.
The craziness of schoolwork, extracurriculars, sports, and social life can be overwhelming and draining. If you’re the type of person to get anxious or stressed easily, try one of the de-stressing activities mentioned in this article! Or, discover one of your own!
Written by Anna-Kate Munsey
Artwork by Abby Croot