Stress management improves lives of students

Troy Pierson , Co-Editor In Chief

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Common terms such as these surround the ongoing thoughts and feelings many high school students face when balancing school, extra curriculars and social activities. Especially for seniors, looming thoughts of applying for college and beginning the path to adulthood can spawn additional pressures that may simultaneously affect everyday tasks and routines. A neglect to finding a solution for these stresses can find oneself leading towards a path of increased anxiety and potential depressive episodes. A study from the National Institute of Mental Health finds that in 2016, “an estimated 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode” during their teenage years.

As a self-conscious person, I try my best in everything I do to attain the highest level of achievement I can reach, from getting good grades to keeping sound relationships with everyone I meet. The pressures I put on myself to complete tasks with one-hundred percent effort can usually place me in a position of immense anxiety, sometimes to the point of experiencing episodic periods of sadness and discontent. Frequent struggles with stress led me to seek a solution that could benefit me for long periods of time.

Chris Miller, a resident physician at University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospitals, recommended to me a potential solution through a free meditation app called Headspace. Headspace provides a series of meditation sessions guided by a host to help one find their inner peace and calmness. The app provides a wide variety of topics to listen to, from motivation to dealing with anxiety and depression. A user of the app himself, Miller described one of his favorite meditation methods the app showcases.

“I enjoy the body scan [Headspace offers], where you start from your head and down to your toes, and you just kind of assess each muscle and how everything feels [and] you are aware of where your stress is [and] where there is tension. [You recognize] that you are able to relieve that tension, more or so. . . . By doing that, the process of scanning from head to toe or any direction that you so please kind of takes the moment to be mindful and removes you from the stresses of the past or the future,” Miller said.

Miller additionally commented on how Headspace can provide a potential benefit for those interested in using the app.
“I think just like anything, with exercise or diet, the sooner you start something, the easier it can be. It gives you more time to develop good habits. And just like eating a healthy diet, sleeping enough, and exercising are good habits that one wants to incorporate into a life, I believe that caring for our mental health is also one, and doing this app is a very easy way to accommodate that,” Miller said.

Taking Miller’s recommendation into account, I decided to give Headspace a try. In my first session, I initially encountered a sense of awkwardness when listening to the host’s directions to stay still and listen to the body’s movements. The challenge to remain calm made me restless and impatient at first, but over time I started to slowly focus on the quiet environment, which led to an overall dismissal of any protruding thoughts during that session. Continual use of the app has now placed me in a more controlled state of mind, where I am able to assess my anxiety by taking a step back and seeing how I can overcome my obstacles with a more peaceful outlook.
Headspace may not only help those who may possess feelings of stress and anxiety, but also for those who seek a new way of understanding themselves. High school can impose many stresses through many different facets of life, but understanding the mind can help to alleviate the pressure.