By: Caitlin Silver
*Alarm sounds* “Ring! Ding!” The day is just getting started. A teenage girl is stumbling out of bed because she is sleep deprived. Thoughts start flooding through her head. Thoughts of apprehension. I don’t know if I am going to talk to them today. I think they hate me. To make matters worse, she just remembered she has a test in science and an assessment in Spanish that she did not study for. I am going to flunk them all.
The stress piles higher and higher.
For many students at Glenelg, this scenario seems stuck on repeat. While stress is nothing new, this year could arguably have a more detrimental impact on students following a return from virtual learning, especially if one was on a regimented schedule and/or isolated from society for over a year due to the repression of quarantine and then was forced into a new routine.
“Some students are handling stress very well while others are really feeling the pressure,” said school counselor Dr. Steven Burnett. “One of the biggest stressors I see occurring at Glenelg is how over-extended many students get by trying to take too many super rigorous courses and being overly involved in extracurricular activities.”
Burnett recommends reducing the feeling of stress by “seek[ing] help whether in school with your school counselor who supports you or connecting you with outside resources. Parents can also be a great resource for help or connecting you with help.”
Being overly involved in activities comes with extended time for meetings or practicing, which ends up being difficult for some to cope mentally. Add to this the challenges of returning to a normalized schedule following virtual learning with increased homework and tests, and conditions are ripe for a stressful environment.
“It is nice being back in the building from having been in quarantine for over a year; however, the homework piling up on me is causing me to lose sleep and not have that much free time,” said senior Charis Lamberth.
Teachers have also noticed the increased stress among students.
“The renewed focus on standardized tests has certainly been an exacerbating factor,” said English teacher Jeff Shear, “as has the return to a full schedule rather than the semester model from last year. I would advise students who feel overwhelmed to reach out to our Student Services department.”
Health teacher Chris Beil believes additional stress is due to a return from a semester schedule last year, and the difficulty of having seven classes instead of four.
“Having more classes now as opposed to having less during virtual learning has forced students to feel more pressure from the larger workload,” he said.
He advises students to use a planner of some sort to jot down anything a student needs to get done. He hopes that this will keep a student more organized.
Victoria Sanders, a junior, takes higher-level courses and faces pressure from her parents.
"When I find myself stressed, I allow some time to organize my schedule in a way that will accomodate all of my priorities first,” she said. “If I know what I have to work on, I’ll be less likely to procrastinate.”
While some students have found it more stressful returning to the school building, others welcomed a normal routine.
“Transitioning from digital to in-person was a big sigh of relief because it’s much easier to learn and do work now, but the stress level is about the same,” said sophomore Preethi Chalasani.
School counselors said they hope students will take advantage of the interventions available to them, especially because mental health is such a vital component of performing well in school.