Every student experiences stress over academics. If we ask ourselves what the source of this stress is, the answer is clear: pressure. As a high school student, academic pressure is part of our lives and yet our institutions do not teach us how to cope with it.
In March, it felt like stressed students had the chance to exhale all the air they had kept in their lungs for years. The lockdown gave us a chance to breathe and think.
During those first few months, it was as if majority of students kept hearing the same voice each night saying the same thing—“one more episode, then I’ll sleep”—as they binge-watched show after show. Eventually, some students decided to launch online businesses, turning sleepless nights into money.
Release the stress
During the start of the lockdown, I spent time pondering about the pressure we students have to deal with. I thought it was time to release all the stress that I’ve experienced in the past years. I decided to learn how to manage my time.
Organizing one’s time is no joke. My school did not teach me how to maximize my time and be productive. It was something I had to discover on my own.
To maximize productivity, I created a daily plan and yearlong plan. After all, didn’t this pandemic teach us what happens if we don’t plan? Did it not show us what it’s like to be isolated from society? Did it not force us to live lives reliant on technology?
There were so many free courses available when the pandemic started so I signed up for one that was all about developing my skills in setting my priorities. Having foreign educators led me to see how much I’d been missing out on before this whole crisis occurred. But even with the help of webinars and lectures, I still felt like I was missing something. I still wasn’t sure I was ready for a lifestyle of me managing my own time.
Stress is a monster
But after months of managing my time daily, I became more conscious about what had initially pushed me to start planning: deadlines, the desire for high grades, school exposure, repeat. I was able to picture how my days looked like before and I started to see what was wrong.
I had been unconscious of this pattern, but now that I’ve seen it, I am able to prioritize my well-being. I asked myself, what is this all for? Why am I trying to beat the impossibility of stress when everyone knows that stress is a monster that no 14-year-old can conquer?
I compared the hours of my day from a year ago to the days I had in front of me. I then decided to invest my time in doing good work for society, in volunteerism and spreading awareness about important subjects. This crisis is a wakeup call to things that we have ignored for such a long time.
As a result, I have a much better learning experience and a wider view of what I want to achieve in terms of both academics and nonacademics. The pressure no longer bothers me because I have realized that pressure leads people to action.
The most effective way of establishing a stress-immune brain is to not dwell on failed marks and short-term difficulties but to see this as an opportunity to value our time. Young as we may be, we have much more time, but that is no excuse for not starting now.
Everything is better done today. The clock never stops, time keeps moving and we have no power over that. What we can do is maximize, eliminate and start. We need to value time, sustain our eagerness in learning and begin early.
The author is a 14-year-old high school student living in Manila.