April 26, 2018


Hi Nikki!
I just entered high school recently, and things seem to get harder and harder! 🙁
There’s too much homework and scary exams. Do you have any tips to make high school less stressful and more fun?

Thanks Nikki!

High School Hang Ups

Hey High School Hang Ups,

Oh man, I feel this.

There’s already a huge leap between elementary school and middle school, with the amount of studying, homework and pressure. And then there’s an even bigger leap from middle school to high school!

I don’t need to tell you why academics are important in high school, because I’m sure you already have a bunch of teachers, counselors and parents telling you that stuff. So let’s just assume that’s all true – if you want to get a good job, it helps to go to college, and to go to college, it helps to have good grades in high school.


But also? If you put too much pressure on yourself and stay up way too late studying and let the pressure get to you, you’re not going to do well in school, either. Finding healthy ways to relax and have fun are important parts of succeeding. Your body and brain need down time, in order to have energy to keep up when things are demanding.

So, here are a few things I think are important:

  1. Figure out where the pressure is coming from: If it’s your parents, talk to them about your goals, and how you want to succeed. Also tell them how you need their help to make sure you don’t stress yourself out too much.
  2. Get good sleep and eat healthy food: Basically, take care of yourself. Sure, you need to study before a big test. But you also need to get a good night of sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast the day of. Besides, who wants to be “hangry” (aka hungry and angry) because you skipped a meal or a sluggish zombie from lack of sleep?!
  3. Take study breaks: This seems like an obvious one, but sometimes when there’s a TON to do, it’s easy to feel like you have to keep on going, going, GOING! But you’ll actually work more productively if you give yourself breaks and don’t fry your brain! I like setting a timer. You’ll find what works for you, but I like to study/do homework for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break, then go again for another 25 minutes.
  4. Break things down: A giant project or a final exam can seem super stressful! But break them down into smaller, more manageable parts and stick to a schedule to accomplish each part, and they’re a LOT less stressful. It can be tempting when a big project is assigned to think you have plenty of time and leave it until the last minute, but that just causes SO much stress at the end AND you don’t end up doing your best job on it. (At least I don’t.) So when you get a big project assigned, make a schedule right away and try to stick to it!
  5. Make goals you can control: I would never tell you not to dream big, but also be realistic about what you can do and what you can control. And remember that not everyone goes to Ivy League colleges. There are lots of great state schools, community colleges and trade schools! Your life is NOT decided in high school. You do the best work you can do while also staying sane, healthy and having fun, and then you see what’s next.
  6. Rely on your BFFs: Hopefully you’ve got a couple great friends like I do. Friends are what make high school fun, no matter WHAT you’re going through! So vent to them when you’re stressed, study together if it helps, but also make sure to schedule time together that is STRICTLY fun, with no school talk allowed!

If you’re thinking about pressure in terms of getting into college, remember also that colleges don’t ONLY look at your grades and test scores. They also want to see an interesting person who was involved in different activities and showed leadership skills. So, it’s possible for activities to be a source of pressure since you’ll be all like, “OMG, I need to do one more thing for college applications!”

But, I think it can help to use the pressure from activities in a good way. For instance, if you need to do activities, you might as well do the ones you enjoy! Don’t play a sport if you hate sports, but if playing a sport is a great way for you to relax and have fun, then go for it! Or maybe it’s doing theater, debate or student government – make the activities things you love, so those don’t become chores, too.

I hope that helps! 

How do YOU deal with the increasing stress and pressure at school as you get older? Tell us in the comments!