By Betsy Larson

     “I grind my teeth, I clench my jaw, it makes me feel anxious, and I can tell my heart feels a little funny,” says Karen Vandyke, social studies teacher at Oyster River High School.

     Stress is a feeling that consumes the minds of many teens, students and even adults. Many students here at ORHS deal with a year-long battle against stress. You may not be able to avoid stress but you have to know how to deal with it. Knowing how to handle stress can drastically change your life. Getting the right amount of sleep, not procrastinating homework and finding a stress reliever are a few simple ways to defeat stress.

     Having a full schedule of classes, after school activities and homework can be a lot for teens to handle, especially while also trying to fit in the recommended amount of eight to ten hours of sleep. Many students here at ORHS find their busy schedules the root of their stress.  

     “I work five days a week because college is coming up and I need money, but that leaves barely any time to get schoolwork done,” says Jenni Healy (‘16).  “I end up staying awake until two or three in the morning doing work and then have to get up five hours later. I’m getting roughly five hours of sleep every night which just causes more stress.”

stressed girl     

     The key to stress relief is finding the source of stress; are you getting enough sleep? Do you procrastinate with homework? Everyone has a different way to cope with stress so finding what works best for you is very important.

     To defeat stress, you should first know how it works. When we feel stressed our body releases Cortisol, or “the stress hormone” which can change your behavior and attitude. Cortisol increases blood pressure, decreases bone formation and suppresses your immune system. Not only does stress not feel good mentally, but it is physically damaging your body. The easiest way to get rid of this feeling is to laugh; laughing releases hormones called endorphins, which make you happy. This infographic shows the stress levels in different categories from 1983 to 2009. The circles closer to the right indicates more stressed.  

According to
9 Strategies For Battling Stress, by Brooke Borel, even the way you sit could affect your stress levels. A study at Columbia University found that if you sit in a more comfortable position, with your arms and legs stretched out for even two minutes, you can decrease your stress level. Many find that exercise is another way to relieve stress. This is because exercise, like laughing, releases endorphins into your central nervous system.stress chart


     “School makes me the most stressed, especially here in Oyster River where we have high expectations to do well,” says Ben Chamberlain (‘16).

      Oyster River, being a top high school in NH, can definitely add a lot of pressure. Students are competitive and the workload is tough, but I believe all this will pay off in the future. If you keep your goals in sight and maintain a positive mind, you can overcome any stress.

     “I take like six minutes and then I have to tell myself that I’m just not going to think about anything for those six minutes,” says VanDyke. “It’s not long and it’s timed and so I just give myself permission to relax for those six minutes.”

     As a kid you have no major concerns or responsibilities. You don’t have a job, you don’t get homework and your parents do everything for you. As you get older you have expectations to fulfill and the work starts to pile up quickly. It’s normal to be stressed but only you can control how you handle it.

     I find myself feeling stressed constantly. I get wrapped up in grades and expectations and I often forget to step back and look at the bigger picture. Sure it seems like getting a bad grade could change a lot, but the effort I put in can change that. Every stressful scenario has a solution and it all depends on what you’re going to do about it. I allow myself to stop what’s making me stressed for just a few minutes. If you do take a break from everyday stress filled activities, make sure to tell yourself when to get back to work and stay focused.

     “I would say I am most stressed out in the middle of the year when I have a test or quiz every day,” says Porter Macmanus. “Sports definitely help me to relieve stress because when I am at practice or at a game I am not worried about anything else.”

     In today’s society, stress can come from more than just a deadline. Often the stress of keeping everyone happy is what gets to people. Maintaining healthy relationships and being comfortable in your own skin isn’t always the easiest thing.

phone     “Staying social and being a good friend can mean committing to things you don’t necessarily have time for, but you do anyways to support your friends because you know they would want you to do the same thing for them,” says Claire Genes (‘17).

     Some stress is inevitable, and it’s easy for stress to get the best of you. Breaking under pressure will just cause more stress. When I’m stressed I set aside a small amount of time to do something I enjoy that doesn’t take a lot of thinking. Sometimes getting your mind off of the cause of stress and then coming back to it later with a clear mind can really help you stay focused and stress free.