High school is stressful. A lot of grown-ups (parents) tend to forget that it was a challenging time for them, too. And with the expectations and aspirations they have for their children, they only end up adding to the pressure.
As a high school student, you may be dealing with peer pressure, academic pressure or the constant worry about your looming college decision. You’re also probably pursuing a whole lot of other interests and hobbies, some of which are gearing you up for better chances with the universities of your choice.
No matter what kind of a student you are, high school is a whole different ball-game. If you struggle with grades, there’s academic pressure to perform well enough for college. If you’re an all-round achiever, you’re probably dealing with crushing expectations from parents, teachers, even distant relatives that you haven’t heard from in a while!
You could also be dealing with peer pressure, time management because you’ve taken on too much, exam anxiety and so on.
We realize that as a student in the age of the internet, you might have stumbled upon enough and more blogs and articles and podcasts giving you five ways to deal with exam pressure, or the top 10 techniques to manage high school stress. So we wanted to help you with something a little more meaningful.
Here are a few pieces of advice that take you beyond the classroom, and beyond just education. They’re ‘life hacks’ that help you see the pressures of high school in a new light and if any of them stick, they’ll resonate well beyond your time-table days, too.
1. Find your drive – your motivation to succeed.
Is it an Ivy League college experience? Is it the chance to finally study what you want to study once you’re not bound to a Grade 11 curriculum any more? Whatever it is you’re after, make a specific goal for yourself to work towards to make high school more purposeful.
Exams and homework can feel extremely stressful, but think of them as the stepping stone to take you towards that big goal you’ve set. The change in perspective will help you deal with the stress better. It helps you to remove this perception of the exam as the big, looming, unpleasant end. Great way to melt the stress away.
After all, it is lack of direction that makes hard work feel so ‘pointless’. You’re going to work hard – so you might as well find a good reason to.
2. Build strong, positive family ties and friendships.
Your family and friends are your support system through high school. With your parents, this is a good time to establish open lines of communication. Understand their expectations of you, and show them your dreams. If you don’t agree on a college decision or a career choice, then work together to come to an understanding.
Friends, too, are important. They get you, and they’re going through this with you. Even if you’re a busy all-rounder, make time to foster great friendships. Ask a 40-something that still has a best friend from high school. It’s a wonderful feeling!
Positive relationships help keep you in a positive state of mind. In fact, they make you feel invincible, making every task easier and every hurdle smaller.
3. Learn the difference between ‘worried’ and ‘concerned’.
A worried person has eyes only on the problem and its worst possible outcomes. A concerned person is looking for solutions. Be that second kind of person. ‘Worrying’ about exams and college applications isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Make an action plan, tackle your exams or whatever needs tackling, do your genuine best and then stop thinking about the results until they come out.
Pressuring yourself through the wait, and anticipating the worst only causes undue stress – something that you’re likely to have more than a fair share of once you go full-adult!
4. Value and learn from your teachers and tutors.
Establish strong relationships with your teachers and tutors. If you’re lucky, you’ll find not just educational support but even a lifelong mentor in some or one of them.
Establishing positive relationships with your teachers will help you garner the support you need to get through particularly challenging phases of high school. You might need some extra help to get through a chapter, out-of-school tutoring hours when you’re pursuing an extracurricular activity that is important to you – all of that is easier when you have the support and guidance of your teachers. (P.S. Find some of the UAE’s best tutors on our app!)
Teachers and tutors also develop insight into their students’ strengths and weaknesses, and can work with you to improve where they see you fall short.
5. Use this time to build self-confidence and get to know yourself.
It’s true when your parents say “you’ll never get these years back.” High school is a great time to get to know yourself a little better. This is a safe ground for you to try and fail at a few things before you hit your stride. Building self-confidence is a great way to manage and address stress and high pressure.
The self-assurance you develop helps you to believe in yourself – often the only push that’s required for you to excel rather than just attempt and get by.
All in all, you’re a young adult now. You should be beyond the need for discipline in terms of when to study, when to put your phone away and other trivial aspects. If you take matters in your own hands and start to feel responsible for the outcome of your actions and decisions, then you feel more in-control and less weighed-down.
Remember to strike a balance between work and play, try and work on being the best version of yourself and take everything seriously enough that you’re pushing yourself to do well, but not so serious that you stress yourself into a mess.
As always, keep learning!
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