How to Not Freak Out

How to Not Freak Out

Jackie Collver, Writer

It has been hard for me to relax lately. My senior year is just beginning, and I will be on a college campus somewhere meeting brand new people in less than a year. Even though I’m ready for this next step, I still have the next 8 months of school to get through. 


School is stressful, and, like many seniors, I am busy applying to colleges. In addition to that stress, my parents decided to get a new kitchen. Currently, we don’t have cupboards or cabinets. All these stressors combined have left me without an ounce of relaxation in my being.  


I’ve been an anxious mess for a few days, and I’m not alone in these feelings. 75% of high schoolers described themselves as “often or always feeling stressed” because of schoolwork (The Washington Post, Students in high-achieving schools are now named an “at-risk” group – The Washington Post).  


But I’ve decided that I’m ready to be done freaking out. Here’s how I’m going to do it.  


In order to clear my head (and because candles are the best things ever), I often light my candle that smells like pumpkins and organize my workspace before I start homework. I love having all my notebooks and everything else that I will need organized by urgency: the things I need to get done first I put on the top of the pile while the things I can work on later go to the bottom. I’ll also do this before I begin actually doing math homework or writing an essay. 


I’ve learned that although homework can be stressful and overwhelming in the moment, it is important to stay on top of it. Otherwise, it will only add to students’ stress.  


It is not a bad thing to need some extra motivation to finish homework, and I’ve been finding myself in this situation more and more as my senior year progresses. To get myself out of this rut, I put on some pick-me-up, motivational pop music or my favorite YouTuber for background noise. Either of those things usually works for me. However, if I need even more motivation, I go to 1889, my favorite coffee shop.  I often find a change of scenery helps me feel motivated. After all, cuddling in my sweater next to a cozy fireplace freaking out over inverse functions is better than cuddling up on my bed freaking out about them. 


As great as freaking out over precalculus is, it’s vital to remember to take breaks while working. Homework is important, but so is giving your brain some downtime. My rule is that for every two hours of homework I get through, I can take at least a half an hour to give my brain a break. During this half hour or so, I either write in my journal (another way that can help reduce stress!) or give myself some TikTok time.  


And then it’s back to the grind of taking one problem and subject at a time, which is another stress-reducing tip. 


For those like me who have a hard time multitasking, it may be helpful to work on one subject at a time. I, for one, have a difficult time knowing that I have many things due for many different classes. It is hard for me to work on one thing, like math homework, while I have an essay looming over my head. Because of this quirk, I often have a hard time managing my priorities, and have missed homework deadlines in the past because I have been so focused on math. Since, I have tried my hardest to work on math homework first, because it’s due sooner than my essay. Then, I can spend the rest of night that I dedicate to homework brainstorming about what I want to write for my paper.  


Thanks to this schedule of doing my math first, this also means that I have been doing my English homework later at night, which means I’m normally working on it until after 9 PM. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten decent at being able to read and understand Virginia Woolf and review vocabulary words that late at night. Studying this late, even if it’s for five minutes, gives me a preview of the vocabulary words for the week, which is better than cramming all 30 of them the night before the test.  


The moral of this story is to use every amount of time possible to review material. Even if it’s just five or ten minutes every night after dinner. At least it’s something, and that time (and learning) adds up. At the very least, this can give students a plan on how to tackle some vocabulary words or other notes they need to memorize.  


High school can be stressful for every student, regardless of their grade level or the difficulty of the classes they take. No matter how daunting your homework load may seem, there are always ways to deal with your stress and find some mental relief. Be it making a schedule based on your assignments’ due dates, taking homework one subject and problem at a time, or doing short study or review sessions, there are ways to stop freaking out.  


Hopefully, these tips and tricks can help other students not freak out or, at the very least, relax a little bit when it comes to schoolwork. Organizing my projects by urgency and writing in my journal helps me the most, and these strategies may help others as well. Remember, there are ways to not freak out. Take life one day at a time, just as students do one math problem at a time.