Why Our Glorification of Stress Reflects the Problem

In our culture, stress has become ubiquitous, and its glorification is only worsening the issue at hand. There is clearly great pressure to succeed at Burlingame, resulting in students taking on more than they can handle and many feel stressed and overwhelmed.

As said, this pressure is fueled by a desire to make good grades, get into prestigious universities, and often to fulfill the expectations of parents, teachers, and even other students. This achievement-oriented mindset is also leading to a strange phenomenon at BHS, where students seem to compete to appear the most stressed.

However, when you really think about it, our stress culture is not at all strange. We associate a 4.0 GPA, AP classes, and a college resume full of extracurriculars, ideals that so many students strive for, with stress. Therefore, feeling overwhelmed is viewed as a sign that you are doing something right; that you are putting in enough effort to be successful.

Unfortunately, as a result, students are boasting about their all-nighters and hours spent studying instead of trying to decrease their stress.

“We tend to, in this weird sort of way, reward people socially for being stressed out,” English teacher Tim Larkin said. “We think of that as some sort of badge of honor.”

Larkin also described the abnormally high number of students in AP classes. As an AP English Language teacher, he is alarmed by the 50/50 split of students in AP and CP English classes.

“50 percent of our kids are probably not advanced English students,” he said. “I think kids are taking on too much and we allow them to.”

“It’s everywhere,” junior Kate Linenbach said of stress at Burlingame. “It manifests in daily conversations and it’s the norm at this point.”

Stress and sleep deprivation are proven to have detrimental mental and physical health effects and it is necessary that we stop glorifying them. I believe the first step is recognizing that our attitude towards stress is part of the issue, and focusing on how we can healthily cope with heavy workloads. Instead of praising excessive time spent on homework as a sign of working hard, our student culture should emphasize the importance of balancing school with one’s personal life.

Senior Edward Phillips emphasized that the most important strategy when feeling overwhelmed is avoiding procrastination.

“I think it’s all about management,” he said.

“I think stress is a mindset,” sophomore Samantha Kershner said. “Just know what you have to do and get it done.”

Posted on October 26, 2017 .