By : Lim Li Anne.

Author’s note : This version may differ (only so slightly!) from the original one published in the chsweekly.

Stress, as defined from, is a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression.

Wow. That sounds…severe.

Anyway, as students, we’ve definitely had our fair share of stress. Adults always say that we have it easy – true, we don’t have to study with oil lamps and eat porridge daily, but that doesn’t mean our problems are any less, especially with modernization nowadays.

The improvement of society and the increasing development of technology have made the requirements for jobs much, much higher. Nowadays even a university degree might not even be sufficient – people want more than that. Admittedly, society hasn’t been too friendly to fresh graduates – it has turned into a “dog-eat-dog” world where everyone has to fight for survival.

 And that, my friends, is where our stress begins…

Exams, exams, exams! First-term exams, trial exams, monthly quizzes, weekly tests! UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM, A-levels, homework, presentations, lab work, projects, thesis, researches! The academic work for every student never ceases! Every teacher demands perfection, as a tiny flaw can pose serious problems for your final examinations! The line for each graph has to be perfectly curvy, shift it a little to the left and boom; it has lost its meaning in entirety! The answer for a Moral paper has to be exactly written as how it is told, word for word, and a teeny-weeny little mistake can make you lose 10 marks! No, you wouldn’t want that, would you?

 In short, let’s just say that the Education Ministry does not fool around with your education…

 (P/S : The writer actually has much to say on this topic, but she’ll save it for next time!)

 Everyone would love having 10As for SPM, or, even better, getting a nifty scholarship that would help you save some bucks. For that, effort has to be put in. Most of the time, it is done with the help of your parents that help pay the lengthy roll of monthly tuition bills. Tuition, tuition, so much tuition until one returns home in fatigue! When the real exam season draws near, you even have seminars and courses that tell you how to score a perfect A – this just shows us how much emphasis is placed on education!

If the world revolved only around education, then perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad after all. However, to be well-rounded beings, we need to do more than just regurgitate History facts in an exam. Hence, all students are required to join societies, sports and uniformed bodies – and most of the time each organization has their weekly meetings and occasional activities – which comes with a slew of paperwork, out for a vengeance. Ah, what a major stress factor! In fact, leaders themselves have more stress than the members – taking charge and coordinating an entire organization is never easy. They need more than just leadership qualities –  lots of patience is also necessary just to get things done in an orderly manner.

In fact, it’s not just school co-curricular activities. Nowadays teenagers are expected to know a lot more than just these. How many people around you learn a musical instrument? I myself  am struggling and suffering with just piano, what more others who take up more than just one instrument? Some even have other agendas on such as yoga and dancing…whew, how exhausting!

So, we have education and co-curricular problems. Unfortunately, some people have to endure more than just that – and thus, the term “personal problems” arrives. From relationship and family problems to a distinct feeling of severe lacking in oneself, these exert a lot of mental pressure on everyone – especially to students like us.

However, one thing is for sure – stress is unhealthy when prolonged. True, it is unavoidable, but there are ways to ease it up. Everyone has to take a breather at one point before continuing on their massive stressed-up journey. So, as students, how should we be coping then? Truthfully, it is different for every single individual. I once had a friend who slept every time he had a problem and knew someone who did push-ups to make himself feel better. Some friends released their stress by ingesting large amounts of food or totally starving themselves otherwise, but such methods aren’t recommended – I mean, just take a look at how unhealthy it is. There are other ways to feel better – just keep experimenting until you find one that suits you well.

Personally, I destress by using the computer and listening to music. Writing helps as well. To be honest…I also get a little bit hungrier than usual when I have stress – chocolate bars and McDonalds, mm-hmm. Sensational!

However, do take note that releasing stress with these ways doesn’t solve the actual problem at all. In the end, everyone has to be strong and learn how to face the problem. Stress may be tough – but it will always be there, and we will always have to do something about it. When it comes to paperwork or studies, it all boils down to sitting in front of the table until you get it done. Personal problems may be stickier and tougher to deal with – but one must know that running away from it will never solve anything – might as well solve it and save yourself the stress!

With that said, good luck to everyone who’s frustrated to the brink of insanity with huge stress loads – Remember, you are not the only one!