The Fourth Quarter Thwarter


Riley Richards

It’s about that time of the school year yet again when students begin to reflect on their grades from the rest of the year and begin to either slack off or try and clean up their grades. With exams, anxiety about graduation and college from seniors, excitement for summer vacation and prom, and any other stressors like sports or work, fourth quarter can be quite the mess of stressful events for many students.


Although every part of the school year will most likely be considered stressful to a certain degree, it seems that students feel it the most during the final push towards summer break. While it could be excitement for the longest break of the school year, it seems to largely be more anxiety about getting everything finished and tied up before the vacation, and it becomes difficult to focus down on what needs to get done.


Students deal with the stressors of fourth quarter (along with the other three quarters) in many different ways, whether it be by putting some events on the back burner, spending more time with friends and family, procrastinating in general, or spending time browsing the internet. However, how well do students actually handle stress this way, and is it healthy?


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there is a vicious loop when it comes to stress, and it can be hard not to become caught in it and handle it poorly. If stress is allowed to create procrastination, procrastination creates more stress, and this cycle will continue until steps are taken to further avoid it.


Unfortunately, these steps are not to eat ice cream and watch tv, but quite the contrary. It’s advised to get a lot of exercise (around 4 hours per week) and eat well balanced meals, as it has been proven that a healthy body means a healthy mind.


It’s also been proven that those extra hours of sleep that have been replaced with studying and caffeine can be a huge handicap towards strong mental health, and may cause more stress than improve grades. Going back to a healthy body, caffeine (and alcohol) can increase the heart rate and trigger more intense stress, while a lack of sleep can worsen memory and focus (around 8 hours is recommended, on average).


While a healthy body is important, a quick fix to anxiety and stress can legitimately be taking a break, however that doesn’t mean to push off work and avoid problems. A small, couple minutes break can help clear out negative thoughts and better prepare the mind to take on challenges. This can be paired with deep breathing techniques and slowly counting to ten (or higher, if necessary) to reduce anxiety in the moment, such as before an exam or other big event.


Beyond changing behavior to improve stress and anxiety, some of the easiest ways to reduce it is to change the mentality towards how the stress inducing activities and events are handled. It may not help immediately, but being positive about the situation, coming to terms with the fact that things probably aren’t as bad as they seem, and simply trying to do the best, can lead to stressful situations being much less intimidating as they once would have been.


These small tips can all be quite beneficial, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that they can and will help everyone deal with their stress. Another tip is to talk to others about what causes stress and anxiety in life; however, sometimes people are to a point where they need more professional help. If stress and anxiety begin to affect everyday life for longer than a month, it’s time to seek out someone to help fix the problem, especially if none of the above techniques have helped.


So next time a big test comes around, school work feels like too much, or a big sporting event is putting down a lot of pressure, take a second to step back. Using all the techniques read about in this article, the stress should easily shrink down and seem much more conquerable, along with making every situation feel much less stressful in general.