Helpful Resources Related to Stress
Compiled by Evelyn S., Concordia Applied Journalism
Journal of Integrated Science:
64.3% of male students and 75.1% of female students are either inactive or have inadequate activity levels.
Physical activity levels of individuals significantly decrease with advancing age.
Students with low school success, smoking habit and low physical activity levels received lower confident and optimistic approach scores
According to the results of conducted researches, smoking behavior emerges as a coping mechanism against stress and smokers undergo higher stress levels than non-smokers.
“What’s the balance between preparing students for college and ensuring they aren’t killing themselves in the process?”
A recent study published by NYU and Columbia University surveyed and interviewed students at a handful of [elite] high schools and found that about half of them are chronically stressed. Aﬄuent youth attending highly competitive private high schools (also called independent schools) are one such subgroup at particular risk for high rates of chronic stress
Indeed, substance use may be a common strategy for coping with stress among adolescents, but this strategy tends to be ineffective and also can have deleterious effects on mental health, behavior, social functioning, and academic achievement
Nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis and 31% reported feeling somewhat stressed. Females reported significantly higher levels of stress than males (60% vs. 41%; p < 0.05).
Females were significantly more likely than males to report problem-focused approach coping (e.g., “tell a family member what happened”) and emotion-focused internal avoidance coping (e.g., “just feel sorry for yourself”) styles while males were more likely than females to report emotion-focused external avoidance coping styles (e.g., “get mad and throw or hit something”).
A substantial minority of participants (26%) reported symptoms of depression at a clinically significant level (a score of ≥10) with no gender differences.
Another male student indicated that the chronic stress regarding grades diminished any enjoyment or deeper appreciation of his course work as he explains: “I’m always worrying about my grades. It almost takes away from the subject, ‘cause I won’t sit there and try to learn the material. I’ll just learn what I need to know to get a good grade. I won’t be interested in it. I’ll just be interested in the grade.”
“A little stress and in moderation can be helpful to high schoolers in so many ways. It motivates them to study, to do better. It helps push them,” says Mary Alvord, a psychologist specializing in teens based in Maryland.
But too much stress has many effects on the body and mind, Alvord says. In the short term it can cause anxiety; over long periods of time, elevated levels of stress hormones can degrade the immune system, cause heart problems, exacerbate respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, and bring on chronic anxiety and depression. That’s bad for anyone, but it can be especially bad for high schoolers: “Colleges are complaining that kids are disengaged, they’re dropping out, taking a long time to graduate. It’s not developmentally appropriate for them to work so hard,” says Gwadz, one of the authors of the recent study.
Alvord suggests that parents help their kids find balance, even in their most stressful periods, by encouraging them enjoy free moments and helping them find coping strategies that work for them. Sometimes, parents who address their children’s stress head-on find themselves rejiggering their family values, Gwadz says. Parents ask themselves: What is really the most important thing for my kid?
Ideally, the school culture would shift as well, though Paulle is not very optimistic about it. “School cultures reflect the greater competitive environment of global capitalism,” Paulle says. “Our current system is a warped manifestation of our general anxiety about downward social mobility and what it takes to move up.”
“It comes down to balance,” Alvord says. “You can’t be ‘on’ 24/7. How can you allocate some time to an activity that can help relieve stress?” Sometimes those activities can look good on a college application, too—a student who plays recreational (not hyper-competitive) soccer for many years is moving to relieve stress and also shows college that she can persevere; clearing hiking trails can be relaxing and constitute community service hours that many kids need to graduate. Teens especially need to make time to sleep. “If you don’t sleep enough, your mood and performance are affected,” Alvord says—an easy fact to forget when students are staying up until 1 a.m. doing homework and getting up at 6 a.m. to go to school.
“School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat—that’s what it can be for some of these students,” says Noelle Leonard, PhD, a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN).
“We are concerned that students in these selective, high pressure high schools can get burned out even before they reach college,” noted Leonard.
Among the differences, families pay substantial tuition rates for a private education and most students are affluent, and “such factors result in a unique set of pressures, expectations, norms, and resources,” noted Leonard.
About half (48%) of those surveyed reported completing at least three hours of homework a night, with girls 40 percent more likely to report three or more hours of homework a night than boys. Participants demonstrated a relatively strong academic performance, with girls reporting an average GPA of 3.57, higher than boys’ average of 3.34. Students showed high levels of motivation for academic achievement, with an average valuation of 2.35 on a scale of 0 (least) to 3 (most). On average, girls were found to be more motivated in this regard than boys (2.48 vs. 2.22). Students reported high rates of feelings of “closeness” to their parents, with an average valuation of 3.15 on a 0-4 scale.
Nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed. Females reported significantly higher levels of stress than males (60% vs. 41%).