I see you. I see you stressed out about grades, and assignments, and tests, and friends. I know it feels like you will never get out from under this mountain of responsibilities.
I see you escape to your phone and friends, hoping for a respite that you know won’t last, because that test is still tomorrow, that paper still due Friday. You know time is one thing you can’t afford to waste, but you do it anyway.
Can I tell you a secret? Adults feel this way too.
If life is hard right now, can I challenge you to do something? Lean into it instead of checking out. I have a sign in my room with directions for what to do when you are overwhelmed. Here’s its wisdom:
1. Take a deep breath.
I’m not kidding. When you are stressed, you tend to breathe in shallow pulls. See if you can breathe deeply enough that the air pushes all the way down to your belly. (Then do it again.)
2. Remind yourself “I can do this.”
The difference between those who fold under pressure and those who excel is often an attitude of determination. You can do this. You CAN. Yes, you might need to ask for help, but remind yourself that you CAN do it. Don’t skip this step. Too many of you listen to a tough inner critic who tells you that you can’t do things– he or she is wrong.
Make a list. Choose what is most important. Stop thinking through what is easy and what is hard. What is truly most important to finish first? If they are all equal, choose one task that will be quick to finish and one that you’ve been dreading.
Close everything except those one or two items you prioritized. I’m serious– shut down the other browsing windows (or minimize them and open a new window with only the first thing on your priority list open). Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Work on that first thing like your hair is on fire and the assignment is due in an hour. When the timer goes off take a 5 minute break, and then repeat. If you have a large, dreaded task, do twenty minutes and then switch to something that is quicker to complete. Then, return to the larger task. Do one thing at a time. Fight the urge to check your phone. Don’t listen to that inner critic if he starts talking. You can do this.
Repeat until done. Take a longer break after an hour or so, but don’t give up.
Managing stress and responsibility is a life skill. Use this time to practice the best ways to manage it in healthy, productive ways, and you’ll thank yourself once you get into college and adulthood. And remember this: learning to push through difficult work produces confidence and resiliency. Don’t give up.
Your teacher and fan,