Stressed for Success


Annalisa Geger

It’s 2 a.m and that last bit of coffee is finally starting to wear off as I struggle to keep my eyes open while drudging through some homework.
It’s that time of the year again when students find themselves shadowed in looming piles of school work all in an effort to maintain that high GPA score. Late nights studying, early morning cramming sessions and naps in between become all too familiar, especially for those students involved in outside activities.
For me, it seems that the hours in the day shrink as the work load continues to grow. Obtaining the time to work on everything becomes harder and harder to find, and often I find myself needing to carve out a few hours in the early morning or late in the night just to make sure I can get everything done. And even then, not everything gets done.
As the depressing month of finals draws near, it’s hard to find ways to stay positive as all of these everlasting responsibilities heat our stress levels to a boil. The question is knowing how much stress students can take before they finally reach their breaking point.
Meltdowns, the tears, the crying are all some familiar characteristics I’ve seen from students on the verge of their breaking point. These are mostly from people struggling to balance hours of school assignments, extracurricular activities and work shifts while still trying to maintain admirable grades. In order to help balance out these daily tensions, the body responds by increasing blood pressure, metabolism, and blood flow to various muscles to help a person react appropriately in high-pressure situations.
However, when people go out of their way to make some small adjustments in their daily life to help alleviate that stress, it can help protect their mental health and wellbeing, perhaps even saving their hard-earned grades, as well.
Some strategies for handling a nerve-wracking month include making some extra time for rest, building healthy relationships, or getting help from others to manage time more effectively, according to the American Psychological Association. Exhaustion, uncertainty, depression and a change in behavior are all symptoms that occur when a student is experiencing more pressure than what they are accustomed to.
Stress also has a way of burrowing into our minds at night, keeping us awake and taking away precious hours of sleep. Although a few hours of lost sleep seem like a trivial loss at most, the effects can be more damaging than expected. Since fatigue makes concentrating a more tedious task, I’ve noticed that my test scores tend to dip more when I take it running off of a few hours of sleep rather than when I take it after a relaxed, full nights rest.
This being said, not all stress is bad. Sometimes it can be a positive source, motivating people to do well before a sporting event or a test. The key to managing it  is to determine the right amount of pressure that will provide energy, ambition and enthusiasm versus the wrong amount which can become harmful a person’s welfare, according to Human Resources expert Susan Heathfield.
Although everyone’s stress factors are different, it’s important for us to understand what is initiating anxiety and to take action against it in order to help prevent more students from reaching that breaking point, especially during the last part of the school year when our GPA is affected the most.