The Pulse of Esperanza High School

The Aztlán

The Pulse of Esperanza High School

The Aztlán

The Pulse of Esperanza High School

The Aztlán

Keeping Your Stress in Check


I am a serial stresser.

No matter how high (or low) the stakes of an assignment, test, event, et cetera, I’ll chase myself into a dark corner of dread in the pits of my mind. Often this anxiety can feel crippling, like the only thing I can possibly think of is that impending sense of doom. And I’m sure you’ve felt the same way too.

The modern teen is afflicted by levels of stress which can creep into every factor of life. When your mind is racing a mile a minute, sleep feels impossible. When sleep is impossible, paying attention in class falls to the wayside. When a class doesn’t have your full attention, your grades slip. When your grades slip, your mind races a mile a minute. This miserable catch-22 becomes a vortex ensnaring us all.

With finals week fast approaching, increases in stress arrive as an unwanted side dish. So how does one truly control it? 

Stress management is by no means one-size-fits-all. Junior Kayla Armstrong, for instance, turns to drawing as a way to suppress anxiety. “Lately I’ve been drawing bugs,” she elaborates, “and I’ve found that putting my emotions physically on paper in front of me helps to disconnect from them.” 

Kaitlyn Vogel, another junior, plays guitar to fuel her calm. “To me, it’s just that repetitive motion, something I’m confident in doing.”

But few of us are actually good enough at drawing or guitar to use these as methods of dealing with anxiety. What can we do instead?

One method of stress relief open to all is meditation, growing increasingly popular through resources such as the Calm app. These guided meditations, narrated by everyone from licensed therapists to Harry Styles, offer a sense of sanctuary from the endless noise of the modern world. Even just five minutes of silence and “mindfulness” counts as meditation. This brief period of unadulterated quiet is invaluable to those who feel they can never silence their thoughts.

Another simple stress management technique is journaling. In the same vein as Kayla’s drawing, writing out emotions can be a way to physically manifest them and remove negative thoughts. One popular writing exercise is the “Three Minute Mental Makeover” (3MMM for short). This set of prompts includes a list of three things for which you are grateful, the story of your life in six words, and three wishes of yours. A 2021 study published in the Permanente Journal found that 85% of participants were able to effectively relieve feelings of high stress through the 3MMM.

Recently, I began running in an effort to ease the pressure I feel. Daily twenty minute runs through my neighborhood have helped me stay tethered to reality when I feel a spiral of dread begin its downward slope. Perhaps it’s only because running sucks so much that I can’t think of anything else when I do so. But I prefer to think it’s because my body has found respite in the release of built-up tension, a way to quite literally run my fear into the ground. 

As pressures continue to mount and anxiety continues to build, it is imperative that we learn to deal with these emotions sooner rather than later. No matter your chosen method of stress relief, just know that the only way out of the woods is to start walking. 

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