As a junior, I am no stranger to the seemingly crushing amount of work and stress that accompany this year. As finals are fast approaching I feel the knot of stress in my stomach becoming more prominent and harder to wish away with a couple “stress relief” episodes on Netflix. Stress is something that will always be around, so it’s easier to tackle it head on now in life and develop good techniques rather than letting it grow on it’s own into something you don’t know how to control.

Junior year being hard is no news flash. Between sports, music, AP classes, standardized testing and whatever else it is you’ve got going on, it’s a big undertaking. As the years go on, it seems that people come to accept this more and more, and the stress and toll that it takes is accepted alongside it. Granted as it is the last full year to be putting on college apps, sports recruitments matter now more than ever, the clock is ticking on missing high school credits as well as many other important things but that doesn’t mean that the stress of this year should knock you out. Junior year more than ever, and quite possibly senior year as well (though I can’t directly speak to that yet) it’s important to keep your own sanity in mind.

Mental and physical health are incredibly important. Everyday I try to make room for exercise, music practice, and some form of creative work be it reading, writing or painting. Before going to bed I like to drink tea, light a candle and listen to soft music from a playlist I’ve named “sleepy tunes.” When I study I turn my phone off and allocate time for breaks. I spend ample time with friends and make time for family as well because I think it’s important to make room for the people you care about in your lives. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am a big fan of to-do lists for organizing everything that I have to do for school and otherwise. My planner is color coordinated and corresponds with my calendar as well. But despite all these systems I have in place to cultivate an atmosphere of calm and order in my life often I still find myself overwhelmingly (and unnecessarily) stressed out by school.

It might be the increase in AP classes and class work that I have this year or the jolt of a different schedule with less time in the afternoon, but this year is much more stressful than all the others have been. I appreciate the strides Roosevelt has taken to reduce the stress culture with the implementation of mindfulness practice every Thursday, but one day a week isn’t going to absolve all the stress from students lives.

Personally, there have been quite a few times already when the seemingly endless amount of things on my to-do list has caught up to me and knocked me down for a bit. I’ve had my fair share of fights with my parents over test grades and the best ways to prep for standardized testing. Despite all of this, I’ve gradually built up better techniques for managing my own stress levels. Many of the things mentioned above have helped me take more time to appreciate everything I am doing as well as to reboot before tackling whatever’s next.

There will always be something more to do. What I’ve learned is that slowing to appreciate everything I am doing and practicing some de-stress techniques, whatever they may be, puts me in a better mindset to being happier, more productive and ultimately more content. Find whatever works for you, be it mindfulness or lighting a candle, because in the end it’s all about keeping your own mind as healthy and happy as it can be.

graphic: Savannah Wellenstein

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