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Student Stress

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Kayla Riggs
Se registró el día 8 de abril de 2018
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“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days/ When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.” In 2015, when Twenty One Pilots released their now infamous single, “Stressed Out,” these memorable lyrics reverberated throughout houses, schools, and stores, causing the song to eventually reach the #5 spot on Billboard’s “Year End Charts Hot 100” in 2016. There is a reason, however, as to why this song became instantly popular–– and it is not due to its unique baseline or its nostalgic music video. Rather, the United States’ population is, quite literally, stressed out. And America’s youth is taking the hardest hit.
As a high school student living in the heart of Silicon Valley––one of the most competitive places in the world––almost everything is centered around receiving good grades in school. In both an academic environment and in everyday life, my generation is solely defined by numbers: our GPA, our IQ, our SAT scores, and our grade percentages. However, there are other, more important numbers that we should be focusing our attention towards. Nearly 20% of adolescents seriously consider suicide each year, 1 in 4 children are affected by an anxiety disorder, and 20% of teenagers are inflicted by depression by the time they become adults. Though these concerning statistics could be caused by a myriad of factors, stress is among one of the greatest influencers. Parents, coaches, teachers, and even pupils themselves fail to recognize this growing issue of stress and the toll it takes on teenagers mentally––and socially as well.
Regrettably, many students my age fail to be social for months at a time due to the overwhelming amount of homework, projects, essays, tests, and speeches that they have the next week; a typical school week for me consists of around 4 quizzes, 2 tests, at least one presentation, and 5-7 hours of homework each night––a recipe for minimal sleep and a poor mental state. According to recent survey conducted by the University of Phoenix College of Education, students are spending a significantly larger amount of time on homework than they used to, the number of hours reaching an astonishing 17.5 in some cases.
This, then, leads to a decline in recreational activity. In fact, in 2015, only a surprising 56% of high school seniors went out on dates, a complete change from the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, the groups in which a whopping 85% of its seniors attended dates. Furthermore, as stated by Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, “Nearly all Boomer high-school students had their driver’s license by the spring of their senior year; more than one in four teens today still lack one at the end of high school.” These dumbfounding statistics can be traced back to the worries that come with school. To put it simply, students just don’t have time to keep up with a social life. Instead of taking driver’s ed, we are studying for a chemistry test, and, while we could be out with a significant other, we are alternatively catching up on the sleep that we missed during the school week.
Sure, I understand that we should be thankful for having the opportunity to attend school in the first place seeing as many children are never given this privilege. However, it is hard to be grateful for something that causes panic attacks, anxiety, nervous breakdowns, depression, and an infinite amount of other mental illnesses. Despite this, I am hopeful. I am confident that we can change the pressure-cooker society that we have created––though it may be difficult. If we all work together as one large community––parents, teachers, and students––we can allow ourselves a better life. Below are a few ideas that could help change our stressful society.
Parents: understand. Speaking as a teenager, if we get a bad grade on an assignment, we know that we could have done better, that we messed up. Yes, it is important to work hard. However, sometimes, everything can become very intimidating––and rather than lecturing us about a poor mark, it would do us much more good to listen and to understand our situation.
Teachers/Administrators: modify. I respect that we need to have homework and a grade structure to teach us the skills needed to enter the real world. Assigning, for example, 2 tests in two days, however, could be a bit much. I am not asking you to completely get rid of activities, but rather modify the work load. Believe me, we, as students, want to think for ourselves and become intelligent––but assigning 5+ hours of homework makes it hard to enjoy learning and diminishes our yearning to come to school.
Fellow Students: live. You do not need to be sucked into the worries and stress that our culture has developed. Go outside, hang out with your friends, and even learn how to drive. You are only young once; do not waste your youth. Seize the day and live your life!
I appreciate that the advice above may be difficult to put into action; even I still have trouble telling myself to loosen up, to live my life. However, trust me when I say that adhering to this guidance is at least worth trying. For someday, maybe instead of singing, “Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days/ When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out,” the “good old days” will be the present.

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