Winter Brings Added Stress for Sidwell Students


In the weeks leading up to the holidays, many students experienced an increase in stress levels with more assessments and heavier workloads.

When asked, most students described themselves as moderately or extremely stressed, with causes ranging from schoolwork to extracurriculars to personal challenges. 

“Junior year is tough. I constantly have to juggle a million things,” junior Elizabeth Hare wrote in a survey emailed to all Upper Schoolers, listing “school, homework, extracurriculars, sports, and the ever growing threat of college while attempting to have a social life and do things that recharge me.” 

Describing her methods for mitigating stress, Hare only participates in extracurriculars she enjoys. 

“Even if they stress me out or are a big time commitment, usually they make me more relaxed after I’m done,” Hare wrote. “I also try to take it step by step. If I have a ton of assignments, I try to just focus on the easiest and go from there. If I’m feeling really stressed, I do something relaxing like listen[ing] to music or watch[ing] a TV show or eat[ing] candy,” she added.

Sophomore Corvid Thomas also named homework, extracurricular activities, tests and on-campus safety as their main stressors. 

“I just try to get the work done so I can stop stressing about not finishing in time,” Thomas wrote in the survey. “If it’s not about school work, I listen to music and try to find a place [where] I can be alone so I can recalibrate,” they continued.

“Half the time, I just try to power through the work, ignoring an insane feeling of panic,” another sophomore explained. “It gets harder when I have multiple tests because my time management skills aren’t amazing, and the end result is me staying up until early morning,” they added.

Many freshmen also complained about heavy workloads contributing to their stress levels, with some having trouble balancing schoolwork with extracurriculars and other commitments. 

“Having homework and tests back to back each week is really mentally draining, and not even having the weekends to recharge has been really stressful,” freshman Leonardo Soriano wrote.

Though Soriano typically manages his stress by going on walks or reading a book, he finds that his heavy workload has prevented him from spending time relaxing. 

One freshman described the workload as a “big jump” from middle school, particularly considering their club soccer commitments outside of school.

However, some freshmen have found ways to manage their stress despite the amount of work they have. 

“I usually identify the stress [by] think[ing] about what it is that stresses me, and then I sit down and take care of it,” freshman Luca Kountoupes said. “I try not to waste time stressing when I could be doing the work,” she added.

Seniors have also had trouble balancing their classes, schoolwork, extracurriculars and social lives, along with the added burden of college applications.

One senior wrote it is very difficult “to balance school with college applications.” They advise underclassmen to ask teachers for extensions ahead of time when feeling overwhelmed.

Senior Felix Allen, who has felt stressed by schoolwork and college applications, echoed this sentiment.

“By default, I go on my phone and avoid my work,” Allen wrote. “Sometimes, I try to just do the work but that also stresses me out,” he added.

Many students face similar challenges with distractions while working, resulting in difficulty meeting deadlines for assignments.

One senior advises students to put their phones away, saying that it is just as important to work alone as it is important to relax.