Is There Too Much Stress?

by Jack Conner

Most people would agree that humans are much, much smarter than we were a hundred years ago, largely due to more rigorous school programs.  Kids, especially in the United States or China, may often hear their parents say that what you’re doing in second grade, they were doing in sixth.  However, for every upside, there is a downside as well, in this case, the smarter the student, the more stressed they become. For every extra lesson teachers attempt to cram in to their curriculum, their student’s stress increases. Most high schools and colleges have around six classes, meaning that the stress the students feel from one class is only one sixth of what they are worried about. Additionally, social gatherings and peer relationships can add even more stress to these students’ lives, an added factor that is nearly impossible to take away without harming the students’ happiness.

Students are often told that they need to try their best to get good grades and make it into college, and are told that not making it to college will ruin their entire lives. This puts pressure on students throughout every phase of their lives, as they are always trying to prove themselves and show the teachers and potential colleges that they are smart and valuable. Sometimes the stress is too much, causing certain students to become disengaged with their classes and turn into potential high school or college dropouts.  

During generations before us, innovation came at a much slower rate, and humanity had time to adjust to each new invention. Throughout all of humanity’s time on Earth, the current generation has always outlived the previous generations. However, the new generation is expected to be the first ever whose lifespans will be shorter than our parents’ generation. Majority of the blame for this falls on rising levels of obesity, which can be caused by stress eating.

Besides just affecting individual students, stress can damage the sanctity of schools as well, since drug and alcohol can stem from elevated levels of stress. One of the main reasons students feel the need to do drugs, or to give up on schoolwork, or, in extreme cases, resort to cutting or suicide, is that schools don’t teach them how to cope with the stress put on them. If schools could hold a meditation session for students for just a half hour everyday, students would be more calm and readily able to handle unexpected events as they occur. Studies show that meditating just ten minutes a day can have a significant effect on people’s health, and can slow a person’s heartbeat by large amounts. While this would be a step in the right direction, students would still be feeling unprecedented levels of stress compared to previous generations. Meditation could reduce stress for some students, but most would continue to build up pressure.

Stress has also been proven to cause sleep problems, an effect of which leads to poorer grades in school. With all these causes of stress constantly being thrown at students since the beginning of first grade, it is understandable why many become dropouts, or resort to drugs and alcohol.. A permanent, and helpful, solution, would be to slow down our school system’s pace, and teach students a set amount each day to decrease the amount of work they feel on them.  Students should also be taught to go to a trusted adult when they are stressed and talk it out. Another way of doing this would be to provide school-wide counselors to help with this, or, if schools already have counselors, make sure to dedicate certain periods to have students express their emotions to their counselor. Hopefully, in the future, our society will be able to decrease the stress put on to students, and help these students live normal, stress free lives.

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