Stress is the natural response the human body gives to challenges. Students are exposed to stress by various factors. When a student undergoes chronic stress or high stress levels, their ability to learn, memorize, and post good academic performances can be interfered with regardless of their age or grade. Stress can also make a student experience poor mental, emotional, and physical health. Teachers and parents may help students avoid chronic stress in their lives if they learn about and develop a good understanding of common stressors. Stress in students may have serious harmful effects and thus needs to be addressed.
One of the causes of stress in students is poor sleeping habits. Compared to students who get plenty of sleep, students who do not get enough sleep at night or lack healthy sleeping habits are likely to develop stress. Enough sleep allows the brain and body of a student to relax and recharge. It also helps in ensuring that the immune system remains strong. On the other hand, lack of enough sleep can limit a student’s ability to learn, concentrate, and solve problems and can also make them more aggressive. According to Hales and Hales (2016), it is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that young people, especially students, should maintain a regular sleep schedule and that they should sleep for between 8.5 and 9.25 hours per night.
Another major cause of student stress is academic pressure. As teachers prepare students for standardized tests, they give them homework even if the students are as young as six only. In addition to these homework assignments, there are classroom assignments and term papers that are supposed to be completed and submitted in strict deadlines. The pressure that comes from these assignments coupled with the desire by students to succeed academically culminates into stress. Students also experience pressure to do well in their academic work from those close to them such as family, friends, and even teachers (Raju, 2009). They therefore feel so much pushed that they even resort to academic dishonesty such as cheating in exams so as to match these high expectations.
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A student’s stress levels can also increase due to poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits. Foods that are associated with high stress levels in students include those that have high refined carbohydrates, sugar, caffeine, and fat. This is the case with many types of fast, processed, and convenience foods. Examples of foods that induce stress include French fries, white bread, processed snack foods, candy bars, donuts, energy drinks, and sodas (Kumar, 2015). A healthy stress-reducing diet is made up of foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat content. Examples of such foods include lean proteins, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
It is noteworthy that high stress levels can make students develop physical symptoms that could negatively affect their academic performance. These signs and symptoms include chest pain, elevated blood pressure, stomach upset, mumbled or rapid speech, nervous habits such as fidgeting, back and neck pains, tremors and trembling of lips, and frequent headaches (Kumar, 2015). When a student experiences these symptoms, they might not feel the motivation they once felt about doing their best in such academic tasks as completing assignments or preparing for tests. Moreover, the symptoms are detrimental to the health of students, a factor which may father make their academic fortunes to dwindle.
Stress also makes students to have poor management skills. A student could become disorganized and uncertain about their priorities and goals as a result of suffering from high levels of stress. This could further make them incapable of effectively budgeting and managing their time. Moreover, highly stressed students have the tendency to procrastinate and neglect such important responsibilities as meeting deadlines and completing assignments (Hales & Hales, 2016). This, of course, negatively impacts the quality of their academic work and study skills.
High stress levels could further lead to self-defeating thoughts among students. While undergoing stress, it is likely that a student may consistently think about the adversity or negative situation in which they find themselves. In addition, they could constantly focus on their weaknesses and failures while ignoring their strengths and achievements. These are self-defeating thoughts that not only deal a blow to their self-esteem but also affect how they behave and how they feel both as humans and as students (Patel, 2016). They result into a student lacking confidence in their abilities and this negatively impacts their success in school since they cannot perform to their highest potential.
There are various stress management strategies students may take to reduce stress. One of these is to get regular physical activity and practice such relaxation techniques as massage, tai chi, yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Students may also keep stress away by spending quality time with friends and family, and keeping a sense of humor. Another strategy may be to find time for such hobbies as listening to music, playing football, and reading a book. It is also important that one gets enough sleep and consumes balanced diet (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019). These strategies may both alleviate and prevent stress among students.
Stress in students cause serious negative effects, both physical and academic. Students may experience stress due to poor sleeping habits, academic pressure, and poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits. Students need enough sleep and less pressure for their brain to relax and recharge for it to function well. They also need to avoid stress-inducing foods such as fries and sodas. As has been seen, high stress levels could lead to physical symptoms, poor management skills, and self-defeating thoughts among students. As such, parents and teachers should work together in ensuring that students do not experience much stress because it is not good for their health and academic ability.
Hales, D., & Hales, J. (2016). Personal stress management: surviving to thriving. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Kumar, N. (2015). Psychological stress among science students. New York, NY: Springer.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). “Stress symptoms: effects on your body and behavior”. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987
Patel, G. (2016). An achievement motivation and academic anxiety of school going students. Lunawada: Red’shine Publication. Inc.
Raju, M. V. (2009). Health psychology and counselling. Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House.