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How To Deal With Stress At School And Live A Better Life

An image of a stressed out father trying to work while his son sits next to him doing schoolworkAre you a high school student or a parent of an elementary or middle schooler and looking for management of school stress? It is not surprising to know that stress at school can occur in all age groups. Stress at school has a highly deleterious effect on the health of students. It also affects the overall performance and development of students. Therefore, it is essential for high school students and parents of younger kids to be aware of the causes of stress, its effects, and how to deal with stress at school.

How to Deal With Stress at School: Knowing the Causes

Stress at school is a well-recognized phenomenon.  Some of the causes of stress at school include:

Academic-related: Schoolwork, Homework

Non-academic-related: Extracurricular activities, work-school balance, societal pressures, transitions, relationships

There can be variation in terms of causes in different age groups of students. This can also determine how to deal with stress at school.

High School Students

Students in higher classes deal with the competition of taking advanced courses, excelling at college placement stress, and deciding about their career track. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a survey that consisted of 72 countries and 540,000 student respondents aged 15–16 years. On average, 66% of students reported feeling stressed about low grades and 59% reported that they frequently feel anxious that test-taking is not easy.

Simultaneously, students are faced with the task of engaging in extracurricular activities for better learning and personal development. Research has shown that over-scheduling decreases the advantages of participation and adds to finances. The societal pressure including those from teachers, and peers to perform better both in studies can take an extra toll on their well-being.

As college education has become an integral part of the system, the stress at school further continues into college. This transition can involve moving out of parents’ homes or having a romantic relationship. Besides, students also start working to get some experience in real life and living independently. In some instances, there is no support from parents or guardians that makes things even harder.

Younger Students

How to deal with stress at school is a rising concern for younger students and their parents nowadays. The No Child Left Behind Act was developed to improve the educational system in the United States. However, it also led to increased stress levels in young kids as they were faced with the pressure to perform better academically. Even the elementary students are stressed too. Young kids are not used to taking tests. It takes time for them to get used to the system and balance school work with other activities.

How School Stress Affects the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response

The bodies of high school students and younger kids are still developing and are accompanied by hormonal changes. When students are exposed to school stress, their growing bodies are not able to bear too much stress. They respond by activating the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. The NEM system is the body’s method of dealing with stress. There are six circuits of organs and systems involved in the NEM stress response that work in collaboration against stress. These circuits include Hormone, Bioenergetics, Detoxification, Inflammation, Cardionomic, and Neuroaffect Circuits. The adrenal glands are the first responders to stress and bear the utmost burden, although all six circuits are involved in the stress response.

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS)

An image of a stressed out and fatigued girl in classThe hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormone axis is the main pathway through which the body sends stress messages to the brain that responds by the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that act on the adrenal glands. When the stress is acute, there is an increase in the cortisol levels as the adrenals release more anti-stress hormones to restore the normal bodily functions. As chronic stress continues, the adrenals become overworked and the hormonal output becomes unbalanced. The cortisol production eventually falls after the peak is attained. The adrenals now are unable to cope up with the cortisol requirement. This situation manifests as generalized fatigue and is commonly called as AFS.

Adrenal fatigue involves reduced energy levels and decreased muscle strength in all age groups.  There is a feeling of lethargy that results in impairment of daily tasks, with loss of vigor. It may coincide with cognitive decline and changes in memory that leads to decreased academic performance in students. Further anxiety, depression, brain fog, changes in sleep, changes in weight set in that worsen the picture. Teenagers should not need to take naps or feel tired during the day.

Understanding the relationship between stress at school and adrenal fatigue can help in addressing the problem of how to deal with stress at school.

How to Deal With Stress at School: Strategies for Coping

In case, you are a high school student or a parent of a younger kid and wondering how to deal with stress at school, then you can make some lifestyle changes. These involve organizing, planning and scheduling, maintaining mind and body, developing good social relationships, and having a positive outlook for life.


The first step in coping with stress at school is by becoming organized and that starts from the study area and living place. An unorganized, shabby living area can raise the anxiety levels and can have negative effects on health and academic performance. The students should declutter, organize their things, following a minimalist way of living. After the surroundings are clean and organized, they can then focus on their studies without distraction. Similarly, parents of younger kids can teach the kids to organize their study area in their homes. This involves clearing games, toys, TV, and any other distractions from the study area. It will also teach kids to develop organizational skills.

Plan and Schedule

Adequate planning and good scheduling go a long way in raising the overall performance of students. They should make a balanced schedule of their activities and not overschedule the tasks. As far as goals are concerned, they can be adjusted accordingly from high grades to getting something that gives satisfaction. The assignments can be managed by splitting them into small parts and planning to do them a few days ahead rather than at the last minute. Studies have demonstrated that students who perceived control of their time reported significantly greater academic performance, greater work and life satisfaction, less overload, and fewer physical tensions.

Likewise, parents of younger kids can prevent overscheduling by having a balance between homework/schoolwork and extracurricular activities. They can maintain weekly time planners to manage the tasks effectively.

Maintain Mind and Body

Students can maintain their mind and body through a good diet, exercise, sleep, music, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation.


Diet plays a key role in maintaining the mind and body. Students require a balanced diet to alleviate the effects of stress and enhance their focus and concentration. Research has shown that academic stress is related to changes in eating patterns. Some students are more likely to increase their overall food intake under conditions of stress and increase the consumption of calories, carbohydrates, and sugar. On the other hand, others tend to consume decreased amounts of food when stressed. Students should get an optimal amount of diet with essential nutrients. It maintains their health and helps them to focus on demanding tasks. Likewise, parents must pay attention to the diet of younger kids.


Exercise is one of the best answers to how to deal with stress at school. Students can include exercises such as breathing exercises, walking, jogging, running, cycling, weight training, and keep switching between them. Studies have illustrated that students who engaged in vigorous exercises and playing sports reported decreased levels of perceived stress and better mental well-being. Involvement in physical activity also increased the levels of social interactions with their friends. In the same way, parents of younger kids should decrease the screen time of the children. The time spent playing video games must be spent doing outdoor activities and games involving a reasonable amount of physical activity.


Getting a good night’s sleep recharges the body and mind. Students with their enormous workload have a tendency for being sleep deprived. Research has shown that sleep deprivation experienced by  students makes them susceptible to diabetes, increased blood pressure, weight gain, and adrenal fatigue. It also results in a decline in academic performance leading to poor health outcomes. Similarly, parents should take good care that the younger kids sleep well to revitalize their energy and reduce stress.

Guided imagery

Guided imagery is an excellent stress management tool that the students can use to manage their stress. It involves a multisensory experience that is similar to the actual perception of some scene, event, or object but occurs in the absence of external stimuli. That means that you imagine yourself in a happy place with closed eyes. Studies have tested the feasibility of this technique and found it useful in decreasing psychological stress and relaxing the mind and body. Students can visualize themselves giving a presentation or getting good grades that assist in stress management.

Other techniques such as listening to music or progressive muscle relaxation can also restore the normal balance of students. Listening to calming and soothing music is highly beneficial for relaxation from stress. Progressive muscle relaxation involves alternate relaxing and tensing muscles that generate relaxation at the end.

Social Support

An image of a young man with his father watching the sun set in a valleyStudents can try to have a good friends’ circle that can help in times of need. The parental support and guidance of teachers facilitate the students of all ages in achieving their goals. A national telephone survey of United States households revealed that the incidence of depression in students reduces when students have positive adjustments to academic life and sufficient social support. The education settings and social environment certainly mediate the impact of academic stress on the mental health of students.

Develop a Positive Outlook

Students should develop a positive outlook on life. The issue of how to deal with stress at school must be viewed optimistically. When one thinks positively, one starts creating positive situations around themselves. Students can practice positive thinking to improve their health, academic performance, and relationships.


In nutshell, high school students and parents of younger kids can do some things to manage school stress for themselves or their kids. This involves making lifestyle changes, maintaining mind and body, and developing a positive outlook on life.

No matter what plan of action you decide to take, however, please seek advice from your health coach. They will assess your particular situation and advise you about how to deal with stress at school.

If you would like to know more about or need assistance with coping strategies for school stress, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Stress in school can have a highly detrimental effect on the students. Many practices can address the query of how to deal with stress at school. These involve making changes in lifestyle, maintaining mind and body, and developing a positive outlook about life.

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