You know what they should teach at high school? The fact that stress is more than something to one-up your mates on. I’m not joking when I say that lots of teenagers see it as precisely the latter. It’s basically a badge of honour, at least in more academically inclined circles such as my nerdy selective high school. If you’re not stressed, then you must be lazy, clueless or up yourself. As such, being stressed is seen as basically desirable.
That could have some truth to it, up to a point. It’s certainly motivating. But the fact is that chronic stress can have serious, damaging effects on health and wellbeing – and, in effect, on performance. That’s why we should be teaching kids to prioritise stress management. For students who value being high performers – incidentally, often the very students who experience unhealthy stress levels – this would likely cut through.
Teach us to manage stress when we’re young and impressionable, and everyone wins – students, schools, parents and eventually society at large. The same goes for the workplace. Stress management training could go a long way towards reducing the need for stress leave, incidents of which are apparently at an all-time high, along with conditions such as chronic anxiety that can interfere with performance.
This pandemic of excessive stress is in urgent need of mitigation, and not enough action is being taken. Band-aid solutions simply aren’t cutting it, and it’s putting a strain on public healthcare resources. Of course, no one’s going to listen to me about this, given that I’m still in year 12. But as someone who’s doing their HSC this year, I’m exposed on the daily to how out of control this thing is, and how uneducated people are about it.
It seems like such a basic thing, which I guess is why people take it for granted that we’ll learn it some other way. But the Board of Education needs as much training in it as we kids do, if you ask me.