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This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.

Stress in Teens Today:

High schoolers living in the highly competitive environment of the United States are under constant stress. Their busy lives are filled with pressure in all aspects of life, from teachers, parents, and coaches. It is important that we stress the importance of mental health for eighth graders going into high school as they face four stressful years. I asked my friends who are also Sophomores at the Latin School of Chicago a simple question: What is one thing you knew about stress before you got into high school? Their answers were all similar because each said that they all regretted spending so much time stressing and overworking themselves with studying, and wished they focused on their mental health and social skills. Some also said that stressing out makes studying harder, and also leads to poor performances on tests and quizzes. In order to catalyze change in my local community, I have decided to talk to the middle schoolers to prepare them for how to deal with stress in high school years! The following is what will be presented to the eighth graders:

Unhealthy Stress:

The first thing to know when beginning to think about stress is that knowing that you are not alone and that talking to someone is extremely vital to coping with stress. Finding a trusted adult or friend is important as they can help you deal with the stress you may be feeling. Stress is commonly from schoolwork, trouble at home, bullying, illnesses, obesity, insecurities and overly high expectations of yourself. Common signs of stress that most of us feel are mood changes, changes in sleep, overwhelming workloads, changes in eating, and trouble functioning in class or in normal life. Unhealthy signs that you should be aware of include, frequent headaches, and sicknesses, isolation from peers and friends,

feeling bad about yourself or guilt, lack of energy, rage and anger, and thoughts of suicide. When showing signs of high stress, it is important to practice techniques to reduce this and to think about what is important, YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. If you show multiple signs of a mental illness, it is important to seek help as eighty percent do not. The best thing you can do is talk to someone, a doctor, friend, parent, teacher, and guardian can be the best source for getting the help you need. Whenever you are in doubt, the best thing you can do is seek help!

This video also helps us to distinguish these differences!

https://youtu.be/UKDLafClG_Y

Tips for Reducing Stress:

  • Get enough sleep
    • Teenagers in high school need at 8-10 hours of sleep a night, and only 15% reported sleeping for 8.5 hours in a recent study. Lack of sleep can limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve daily problems, so getting the proper amount of sleep is vital to mental health.  The cognitive issues that can result because of a lack of sleep include trouble with memory, trouble with focus and attention, difficulty learning, poor judgment and decision making and reduced ability to problem solve. The sleep-stress cycle occurs as high stress leads to a decrease in sleep, so making time for rest is vital to mental health.
  • Don’t Over Do it!
    • In high school, a common misconception is that you have to get involved in a billion things in order to get into a good college! The best thing that you can do is find things that you are passionate about so that you can make a difference and have fun while doing so. Getting yourself involved in many activities that you can’t keep up with becomes tiring and stressful. Make time for what is important like the things you love, family, and friends!

 

  • Take time for yourself
    • When you find yourself stressed out, take a couple minutes out of your day to breathe. Go out and take a walk, or do something that you enjoy and utilize that time to be stress-free. Taking time for yourself allows your brain to unwind a little bit and gives the brain time to rest and replenish itself. Next time you feel super stressed, take a minute to breathe!

 

  • Being productive in free time, DISTRACTION FREE!
    • When you remove the many distractions like phones and social media from your workspace, increased productivity is proven. Constantly surrounding yourself with a million things to look at and do is disrupting to your work. If you know you are stressed out because of large amounts of work, the best way to deal with that is shutting out distractions so you can be concentrated and get it all done. Taking breaks from your work is also very important as working for long periods of time can be tiring and detrimental. Time-management is critical to getting things done, and saving your work for the day before it is due is A HUGE cause of stress. Planning out work a week or so before can be extremely helpful and helps us dealwith stressful lives. Keeping a record or plan on paper can lead to more productivity and can be super effective. Accept that not everything can be done at once and prioritize the work that you know you can do!

  • Positive Attitude
    • Having faith in yourself is extremely important. Thoughts like I BELIEVE and I CAN are super helpful when getting work done, and is a great coping mechanism for dealing with stress. The benefits of positive self-talk include
      • Longer life
      • Reduce risk of depression
      • Success physically and mentally
      • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
  • Talk to Someone
    • It is SO important to get help, especially when you know you need it! Find someone you know will HEAR you, and not just hear you but will listen with care and concern. Often times talking to someone about your stress can alleviate it. Knowing that someone is there and supports you can help, and they can help you get the help you may need!

FOCUS ON YOURSELF:

Next time you are feeling stressed at school, try some of the tips above! It’s super important that you take time to recenter yourself and you keep your mind healthy. As busy as you may be, with sports, school and other extracurriculars, remember how important having a healthy mind and body is!


WHAT’S NEXT?

If you could tell your young self one thing about high school what would it be?

My goal for my presentation to the middle school is to come with real input from all of you! So if you could leave a comment with an answer to this question that would be great!

 


Sources:

  1. Anderson, Meg, and Kavitha Cardoza. “Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students.” NPR, NPR, 31 Aug. 2016,
  2. “Problems at School | Association for Children’s Mental Health.” ACMH, Association for Children’s Mental Health,
  3. Williams, L. “5 Time-Management Tips for High School Students.” Unigo.com, UNIGO, 13 Nov. 2015,
  4. Wilson, Tim. “Better Time Management for High School Students.” Time Management Success, Tim Wilson,
  5. Mazzella, Randi. “Parenting Busy Teenagers Through High School.” Grown and Flown, Grown & Flown, 16 Nov. 2015, grownandflown.com/parenting-teens-busy-high-school/.
  6. “High School Students Are Busy.” Galin Education, Galin Education LLC, galined.com/archives/high-school-students-are-busy.
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COMMENTS: 9
  1. April 26, 2018 by Kelli

    This is a wonderful presentation on stress and ways to reduce it! To answer your question, (If you could tell your young self one thing about high school what would it be?) I would tell myself that it’s okay to make new friends and branch out to people, and that when faced with a problem academically to relax and ask people for help.

    • April 27, 2018 by Isabella.Flerlage

      This is great and definitely something I would tell myself too! Thank you for your comment!

  2. April 27, 2018 by Maya

    Bella, this is a great dissection and presentation of stress and how to combat it! I did a similar project relating to ACT and SAT stress and came across much of the same info you have here. I wonder how this would work and help incoming freshmen if it were given to them as a resource by Latin. Also, as a senior I found a lot of these tips relatable. One tip that stood out to me is to not get involved in a million activities for the sake of being involved and having one more thing to tell colleges about because this can lead to compromised commitment and can inhibit you from finding where your true passions lie. Awesome job!

    • April 27, 2018 by Isabella.Flerlage

      Thank you so much!! I’ll be sure to look at your presentation! I think it will be great for the incoming freshman

  3. April 27, 2018 by Crawford Asman

    Bella, I really enjoyed reading over your project regarding stress and how to help reduce one’s levels. Your point about how only 15% of teenagers, on average, get 8.5 hour of sleep hit really close to home. I suffered from extreme stress and anxiety in middle school after I had moved to London from America. I was constantly staying up late because my heart would be racing and I could not stop thinking about my situation. Thank you so much for providing a source for people to learn new ways to reduce stress levels.

    • April 29, 2018 by Isabella.Flerlage

      Thank you! Super glad that you found it helpful, and I know what that is like for sure, its the worst when you are absolutely exhausted and have no motivation to do work, and you get stressed and cannot sleep because of it. I’m glad it stuck with you!

  4. April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

    This is a really good project. I love the way you were able to present ways to reduce stress. I often find myself overwhelmed by school and other things, and it is very hard to reduce stress. I did my project on a similar topic about stress and anxiety in school. I need to learn from the project as it is almost my senior year, and I have to learn how to have fun in high school. These tips are really helpful, Thanks!

    • April 29, 2018 by Isabella.Flerlage

      Of course, glad you found it helpful! A big part of school is finding things you love, and having fun doing so, definitely something I have to work on as well!!

  5. April 30, 2018 by Caroline Creamer

    Great job, Bel!! You did such a good job explain ways to reduce school stress. I didn’t realize just how little sleep teens get on average, so that was a really helpful statistic. Can’t wait for our presentation!!

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