By Matt Wujciak
“Worrying is often triggered by wanting to make the perfect choice or by trying to maximize everything. When buying a used car, you want one that is cheap, reliable, safe, sexy, the right color, and fuel efficient.
Unfortunately, no single option is likely to be the best in all those dimensions. If you try to have the best of everything, you’re likely to be paralyzed by indecision or dissatisfied with your choice.” (Alex Corb, author of the Upward Spiral).
Studies have shown that academic-related stress is sky rocketing among high school students each decade. As the academic level of competition rises between teenagers, along with it comes an increased national average of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or even alcohol and substance abuse.
However, I’m here to tell you 5 simple tricks that will help you relieve stress, increase focus, and produce healthier and more effective results on a daily basis.
1) Write down things you look forward to and be mindful of them
According to studies in The Happiness Advantage, setting a date for a potentially enjoyable experience raises endorphin levels in your brain by 27%. No matter what you have going on in your day, keep a sticky note in your backpack of all the enjoyable events coming up in the next month.
That might be something as simple as grabbing a slice of pizza with a friend this weekend, seeing a movie with your family, going for a walk with your dog after school, or planning a social event with classmates, teammates, or co-workers next week. Creating positive anticipation in your life will increase neurotransmitters, raising endorphin levels and reducing stress and anxiety.
No one likes being told to exercise… (especially with an exclamation point at the end of it). But I promise you it helps not only from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint as well.
A Harvard study has shown that regular exercise creates health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. “High-intensity exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the “runner’s high” that joggers report,” ultimately reducing depression symptoms (Harvard Health Letter).
3) Organization and Routine
If your stressed out with academics, athletics, job hunting, or your internship, take a look at your daily routine and see if you could find the source.
Get up before school with twenty minutes to spare (reducing anxiety of being late or forgetful), take the time to eat a healthy breakfast to fuel your energy for the day, do your homework at the same time every day to get in a systematic routine, take another twenty minutes to review your notes after your school day to help you consistently reinforce the processing of class material, and even say hi or socialize with one person every day that you wouldn’t normally have a conversation with (I promise you it will get easier).
An organized routine of healthy habits is the easiest way to create that neurological upward spiral.
4) Find a mentor
This one is fairly simple. Find an upperclassman, teacher, relative, or teammate that you respect and can confide in, specifically someone who is older than you and has gone through your current stage of life.
This type of mentor can serve as a knowledgeable guide that can give you academic and career advice, or when you are just feeling stressed out after a tough day.
No one can have a healthy and productive day without sleep. I don’t care who they are or how much money they’ve made. Sleep is the foundation from which your energy and motivation comes from.
If you get the 8 hours of sleep that your body needs each night, you will be more focused and attentive throughout your day. The last thing you need is to be caught snoozing in class when your crush finally complements your new hair-cut.