Tackling School Stress- Teen Blog

When school hits you by Victoria Nevland
Image: When school hits you by Victoria Nevland on flickr

Tackling School Stress

I’m probably one of the most nervous people I know, especially when it comes to school. Like any teenager, I’ve completed countless tests, quizzes, presentations, and exams. But, sometimes it can feel like no matter how much I study, no matter how confident I am with the material, my heart is racing and my hands are shaking.

When I’m stressed, I feel the symptoms physically, as if I’ve convinced myself that the only way I can perform at my best is when my stress levels are unhealthily heightened. But the truth is optimal grades come from confidence, not anxiety.

During the days leading up to a final, or a midterm, or an important test in school, it’s important to keep track of your priorities. Mental sanity is always a priority. Getting a bad grade might be disappointing, but being in a state of despair is worse.

I’m the biggest hypocrite in the world for saying this, but sleep is also important—very important. It’s necessary for both mental sanity and academic achievement. We’ve heard these facts a million times, how our brains consolidate material. We’ve learned sleep puts us in a state where we can absorb information more efficiently, but the science doesn’t lie.

What I’ve found is that when I don’t get enough sleep before a test, I make tons of careless errors and my malnourished brain isn’t awake enough to catch my mistakes. Moreover, thinking itself gets harder, and my exhaustion interferes with my efforts to retrieve the fundamental concepts. My writing gets convoluted. To say that I do badly on tests with five or less hours of sleep wouldn’t be entirely true, but I know that I never do my best.

In order to avoid the 2AM ‘time to learn three-hundred years of history in the next three hours’ epidemic, I make lists, tons of them; What I need to study, how I’m going to study, when I’m going to study. I try to take advantage of my free time, whether that means sacrificing a bus ride to school for an extra hour of sleep the next day.

I also learn to enjoy the time when I’m not studying, even if I’m not doing anything exciting. I love stepping out of the shower, washing my face and braiding my hair before I get into bed. I love lying in bed, the moments right before I fall asleep, because I can let my mind wander. I love wearing my robe as I brush my teeth in the morning, before I can think about rushing to class.

Being consumed in school stress is neither healthy nor beneficial for doing well academically. When listing my priorities, I make eating lunch with my friends one of them. I make eating a snack one of them. Reading before bed. Talking to my mom when she comes home from work. Make yourself a priority, whatever that means to you.

– Josie 15 years Old



  • What if you can’t force your mind to sleep? I’ve tried many ways of trying to fall asleep early, especially before exams and school nights but I’ve always had the problem of clearing my mind. I’ve tried fragrance baths, running, reading, my phone in another room etc but they never seem to work.
    How do you get to sleep if your mind is racing and worrying? -LJ

    • Lizzie – Can you talk to a parent, a teacher, or the school nurse about this? Sleep is important – you need rest to stay healthy.
      Try to get help from a doctor, or find a therapist to help – even short-term therapy with medication can make a huge difference! The fact that you realize something is amiss is a good sign! It is the first step towards recovery and feeling better! Please do not give up on seeking help when feelings get you down – it’s those very feelings that make us human! Some of us are more sensitive to stress and worry, so learning to ask for and seek help when we need it can be an important factor in staying well!
      I’m pulling for you! Good luck!

    • hey lizzie! i know u might not see this response bc its so late but i used to struggle with this a LOT, like i would be physically exhausted and i wanted to sleep but when it was time for bed my mind would be racing, and then i started journalling and its so, so helpful. i just write a list of all the things im thinking of which gets it out of my mind. sometimes thats enough because i see all the thoughts im having on paper and it makes me realize that theres not as much going on as i thought, but sometimes i have to write a little bit more and add little notes about how im gonna tackle each issue (like if i have a list of things i need to take care of in the next few days, ill write quick notes like “email math teacher tomorrow before class” that specify what im gonna do and when/how ill do it). idk if youve tried this before but its the only thing thats worked for me!!

    • i get to sleep by listening to audio books, or listening under yur pillow your favourite tv show without watching it.

  • Being a student at New Trier there are so many times where I felt that if I did not get an A in a certain class I would never be able to get into the college of my choice. At New Trier teachers place so much weight on the shoulders of students to teach teenagers that receiving good grades is the only way to succeed. At New Trier we get tons of homework each night causing most New Trier students to get on average about 7 or less hours of sleep. I believe having more leisure time and less homework could potentially result in having a more stress-free academic experience. I completely agree with the fact that school related activities are the main cause for stress. At New Trier about 42% of students feel stress between 1-9 days which is common because when students study for tests or receive tons of homework during a specific period of time will cause a spike in a student’s stress levels.

  • Sweety, I appreciate you recognize yourself well, the insight that reflects is a high maturity level. True the stage that you are going in is a blend of all emotions.. all your ups and down have to be carefully dealt with.

Leave a Comment

You must enter a name and email address. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.