The Balancing Act


by Marco Cespedes


“I’m a robot,” sophomore Brooke Thadeus said, as school work consumed all of her time and none was left over for enjoyable pastimes.

This idea is shared among many students here at AHS. Between school and other demands there is little time to engage in refreshing activities.

An important part of life and yourself is lost without time to refresh yourself and be yourself.

Stress and worry over schoolwork and demands corrodes leftover time. Many students experience this reality of worry and stress.

In an A-Blast survey, 75% of students, 85% of seniors, 75% of juniors, 80% of sophomores and 62% of freshmen said they were stressed.

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

Stress is caused by a variety of things. Different demands are stressful for all kinds of people. Some find athletic responsibility and pressure more stressful than academic responsibility and pressure (and vice versa).

Statistic Brain, using information from the American Institute of Stress and the American Psychological Association, states job pressure, money, health, relationships, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep deprivation as the top American stressors.

“Teachers make me stressed out, because they give me a lot of homework,” sophomore Hassan Malik said.

“Having a lot of homework stresses me out,” sophomore Rebecca Soulen said.

“Lots of projects all assigned at the same time [stresses me out],” sophomore Kat Schaedel said.

“I think the idea of taking a ‘techno holiday’ is a great idea. So put aside your cell phone or your technical devices for even an hour every day and not constantly have to be at their beck and call because that can cause a lot of stress,” school psychologist Anne Brosnan said, “Take time to spend with friends, your family, and to take time to enjoy fun and laugh.”

Stress seriously affects every aspect of students’ and peoples’ life. The American Psychological Association states the following as the physical effects of stress: anger; fatigue; absence of motivation, energy and interest; anxiety; headache; depression; inclination to cry; upset stomach; muscle tension; appetite change; teeth grinding; dizziness; and tight chest.

So what can be done?

It is necessary and imperative to manage stress, balance activities, and find ways to refresh and relax to avoid burnout.

Part of dealing with stress is balancing one’s life and being well rounded. Director of Student Activities Karl Kerns believes that being well-rounded is ‘absolutely’ crucial.

Part of being well rounded is participating in clubs. There are many different types of clubs at AHS. There are the honor societies; social action clubs like the Green Atoms and Just World; political clubs like Young Republicans and Democrats; or academic clubs like the Book Club, Its Academic, and JV Math Team.

Priorities need to be set, because one cannot achieve and complete everything. Kerns said that “family always comes first”, personal life is second, and academic activities and school is third.

As wells as being well rounded another way to balance is to deal with the stress in our lives.

Listening to music, exercising, hanging out with family and friends, reading, watching TV, praying, playing video games, surfing the web, napping, partaking in hobbies, and eating are some of the ways Americans cope and deal with stress, according to the American Psychological Association.

“This is what I’ve had to do to relax.” Kerns said, “At certain times my phone is away. It’s off. I’m not on my phone emailing. I’m not on texting. I’m not social networking. I think what happens is the generation now is rushed to see if someone has emailed me, has someone texted me, has someone tweeted me… At a certain point in time I put it [phone] away. It’s done. It’s me and my family. I think parents need to work with their children and say it’s family time, phone off, iPad off, computer off, TV off … and do something together as a family.”

Another component of dealing with stress and balancing is staying healthy and maintaining healthy habits.

“It’s very important for people to take care of themselves physically… because I think that has an impact,” Brosnan said, “People can…[get] proper sleep. That’s really important because I know that’s a big issue for a lot of people. I think it’s important for people to eat breakfast in the morning. A lot of them feel so rushed that they can’t do that a lot of times.”