Stress may be the hardest subject at Watertown High

Natalie Finton, Raider Times staff

    With school comes social and academic stress. It’s no doubt that with each new semester comes new challenges to face. Just how stressed are students at Watertown High School? A student poll showed what causes the most stress to WHS students everyday. From the data, it is clear that everyone has different things that worry them.

    Out of all the ninth-graders asked whether stress was an issue for them, about half said yes and the other half said no. Most of the ninth graders who said no felt as though the school had only just begun, and that its only freshman year. Many who said yes, that stress was an issue, stated that all of the homework and tests were something they found hard to manage.

    One student said that with all of the homework they had, as well as after-school sports, they felt pressure to get all their work done on time.

    Freshman Leah Bailey says she does feel stress, however it is manageable.

    “There’s a lot to do, but not a lot of time to do it. But there are resources to help you,” she says.

    All of the 10th- and 11th-graders asked said that they feel stressed at school. Again many of them find homework and tests to be the leading cause of their worries. Many sophomores feel as if they have a lot more responsibility and independence than they had as underclassmen.

    With college being right around the corner, many seniors also feel stress when managing work and free time. One senior mentioned that it “corrupts my free time.” Another stated that stress is not something that they experience often.

    “I don’t feel it anymore,” says this student.

    Dr. Katja Baker, a Watertown High guidance counselor, has helped many kids with stress. She knows just how to help students cope with their worries. Here are her responses to questions about stress at WHS, and how to deal with it.

Do students often come to you with complaints/worries of stress?

    “Students only come to me with complaints and worries about stress indirectly,” she says.

    She says that she only hears of a student’s stress when they come to her to switch a class or to get an extension on an assignment. She says that the stress of time management is a big issue for students.

    The time when most students come to her the most about being stressed is the college application process. However, when she talks to these students and explains the process, stress usually decreases drastically.

    “There is a lot of anxiety around the college application process in our society at large, so of course the kids pick up on it,” she says. “Reassuring them that their list of colleges is a good list, and going over the process with them in more detail typically decreases the stress level quite a bit.”

What advice would you give to these students seeking help to manage stress?

   Dr. Baker says that she tries to help students identify and then resolve problems.

   “Breaking things down to manageable pieces makes it much more possible to deal with an issue,” she says.

    She says that often students need to calm down and try to asses the problem in order to fix it. If these stressors have to do with a large issue outside of school, she may refer you to a school adjustment counselor, to prevent out of school issues from affecting your work.

How do you think that stress affects the daily lives of WHS students?

    Dr. Baker says many students are stressed about high school and post-high school planning. This stress however, can take over in a student’s mind, especially when students don’t know how to calm down and think about their problems rationally. This is when contacting a guidance counselor can really change a student’s life.

    “If stress issues are not addressed and recognized, they can really make things difficult: students may lose sleep, their eating patterns may be disrupted, and, in general, their experience of school becomes polluted by the stress,” she says, adding that if these stresses are not dealt with, it can affect students’ relationships at home.

    A student’s experience at school can be negatively impacted if their mind is focused on something that causes a great deal of stress or anxiety in their life. If you are feeling stressed, it’s best to relax, asses the problem and figure out an efficient way to fix it. Just remember, everyone is stressed from time to time, don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals!

–Dec. 2, 2017–