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FNU Tips How to Deal with School Stress and Work at the Same Time

How to Deal with School Stress and Work at the Same Time

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Getting a college education is a challenge . So, when you add the responsibility of working while earning a degree, there’s naturally going to be an added level of stress. And while this is pretty common for students, there’s the challenge of dealing with that kind of school stress in a way that’s going to render a positive outcome towards your academic work.

How to Deal with School Stress

College coursework has its own set of demands. The syllabus alone requires hours of reading assignments and projects that need to be done outside of class. Let’s not forget about the actual amount of class time that you must commit. If you’re going to college part-time, then you’re dedicating time to at least 2 courses a week per semester whereas a full-time student can dedicate time anywhere between 3 to 4 classes a semester.

It is recommended that students dedicate at least 3 hours of outside classwork for every course. So, if we go by this formula, then you could be spending up to 6 hours toward college coursework as a part-time student and up to 12 hours as a full-time college student. Adding a 40-hour workweek to that schedule will add up to a significant amount of time that you need to dedicate toward your job and academic studies.

Here are some times to help you balance work and school:

Have a Plan and be Organized

You need to stay organized between your work and classes. Do this by keeping your school and work materials. When it comes to schedules and deadlines, use different colors on your calendar or planner to avoid getting them confused. Start every assignment early just in case other things come up. This also means scheduling time to study so you’re not cramming before an exam or at work.

Find Ways to Create a Flexible Schedule

It is important to understand and accept the fact that some parts of your schedule will not be flexible. You should, however, take advantage of things like, changing shifts requesting flexible to study and complete  your homework. As a student who is working at the same time, you should be ready to adapt to late nights with assignments, sudden work requests, or unexpected errands. For some students, online courses are a great option. However, make sure you have the discipline to participate in class, complete assignments, and succeed on exams.

Prioritize and be Realistic

Time is a limited resource as you work and go to school. Always be honest with yourself. You simply do not have the time to do everything. Therefore, decide on your priorities and accept that some things will have to change. Making time to socialize and exercise is important for your mental well-being, but you may have to miss a few events to complete an assignment or fit in a shift. Just remember that your life won’t always be this hectic and for now you need to excel at these two objectives.

Avoid Time Wasting

Setting boundaries is important in all aspects of life. Therefore, try to keep work and school in close proximity to cut down on your transportation time and costs. Be disciplined with your time management. Avoid spending excessive time on social media. Engage in activities that help you to relax but avoid those that provide little benefit.

Learn How to Manage School Stress

School Stress is an unavoidable part of having dual responsibilities as a student and employee. To manage it all, it is important to get enough sleep, take regular breaks, be active in class and at work, eat well, and get some exercise. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you manage stress and live your life to the fullest – after all, it’s why you’re studying!

Communication is Key

It is important to communicate your schedule to your employer, friends, and family. This helps  the people around you know when you will be available. For you to study effectively, you need time to go through your coursework. Letting people know about your schedule minimizes interference with your study time. Remember, not everyone you live or work with understands the demands of being a student. Similarly, not all your classmates will understand the responsibilities of working while in school. Therefore, communicate and let the people around you know your schedule and workloads.

Oftentimes, your supervisor may be able to work with you, especially if you’re working towards moving up in the company. If you communicate that you’re currently taking college classes, your boss might be a bit more lenient with you or help flex your schedule. It all starts with communication! Likewise, let your professor know your current situation. Then, if unexpected work expectations arise they are more likely to help you manage. Things like this happen and can certainly cause some heavy stress, but communication is key.

Managing It All

So, how in the world do you find time to manage the stress that comes with managing school and work responsibilities?

Oh, it’s possible! It’s really about learning how to manage them and not let them manage you!

There are ways to make all of these responsibilities work in your favor. After all, if you need a job to generate income while you earn a college degree, why not find a job that’s somehow related to the profession you want to pursue?

For Instance…

If you’re going to college for a health care related field, then it might be beneficial to apply for a position at a local medical facility. Depending on your current academic degree, you might be eligible for an entry-level job. Applying for a positions in an office, cafeteria, or in maintenance can be beneficial as it gets your foot in the door and offers you the opportunity to network with professionals in the hospital. You can let them know that you’re currently working towards a degree. Frequently, companies are more likely to hire internally first because they are already familiar with your work ethic. Also, typically it’s easier for Human Resources to process a promotion than to hire someone externally. Plus, when a company hires internally, they have a better track record of someone’s work performance.

What are Other Options?

A great way to manage work and school is to get a work-study position on your college campus. This can alleviate the stress of driving back and forth in traffic from work to school. As a student employee, you may also have the opportunity to network with campus faculty and administrators outside of the classes you take. Your work ethic along with the academic commitment you show will be noticed, and as a result, opportunities may be presented to you that might not otherwise have been.

Weighing the Options

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine what you can handle and what needs outweigh the others. Some students have the advantage of minimizing their work hours, so they’ll have more time to commit to academic studies. Others absolutely have to work and can only commit the minimum—sometimes even fewer hours toward their academic studies. Other students may find that taking courses online is the only way to manage it all.

Let Florida National University help make your college career a little less stressful! It is possible to work and go to college at the same time!  Contact FNU  for an appointment with one of our advisors today.

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How to Recover from Work Stress, According to Science

  • Alyson Meister,
  • Bonnie Hayden Cheng,
  • Franciska Krings

stress from school and work

Five research-backed strategies that actually work.

To combat stress and burnout, employers are increasingly offering benefits like virtual mental health support, spontaneous days or even weeks off, meeting-free days, and flexible work scheduling. Despite these efforts and the increasing number of employees buying into the importance of wellness, the effort is lost if you don’t actually recover. So, if you feel like you’re burning out, what works when it comes to recovering from stress? The authors discuss the “recovery paradox” — that when our bodies and minds need to recover and reset the most, we’re the least likely and able to do something about it — and present five research-backed strategies for recovering from stress at work.

The workforce is tired. While sustainable job performance requires us to thrive at work, only 32% of employees across the globe say they’re thriving. With 43% reporting high levels of daily stress, it’s no surprise that a wealth of employees feel like they’re on the edge of burnout, with some reports suggesting that up to 61% of U.S. professionals feel like they’re burning out at any moment in time.  Those who feel tense or stressed out during the workday are more than three times as likely to seek employment elsewhere.

stress from school and work

  • Alyson Meister is a professor of leadership and organizational behavior at IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland. Specializing in the development of globally oriented, adaptive, and inclusive organizations, she has worked with thousands of executives, teams, and organizations from professional services to industrial goods and technology. Her research has been widely published, and in 2021, she was recognized as a Thinkers50 Radar thought leader.  
  • Bonnie Hayden Cheng is an associate professor of management and strategy and the MBA program director at HKU Business School, University of Hong Kong. She is the chief resilience officer of Human at Work and serves as a scientific advisor of OneMind at Work. She works with senior executives of companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500, transforming corporate cultures by incorporating wellness into their business strategy. Follow her on Twitter: @drbcheng.
  • ND Nele Dael is a senior behavioral scientist studying emotion, personality, and social skills in organizational contexts. She is leading research projects on workplace well-being at IMD Lausanne, focusing on stress and recovery. Nele is particularly tuned into new technologies for the benefit of research and application in human interaction, and her work has been published in several leading journals.
  • FK Franciska Krings is professor of organizational behavior at HEC Lausanne, University of Lausanne. Her research interests include workforce diversity and discrimination, work-family balance, impression management, and (non)ethical behaviors. Her work has been published regularly in leading journals in the field.

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How to Cope With Stress at School

Last Updated: December 24, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Adam Dorsay, PsyD and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD . Dr. Adam Dorsay is a licensed psychologist in private practice in San Jose, CA, and the co-creator of Project Reciprocity, an international program at Facebook's Headquarters, and a consultant with Digital Ocean’s Safety Team. He specializes in assisting high-achieving adults with relationship issues, stress reduction, anxiety, and attaining more happiness in their lives. In 2016 he gave a well-watched TEDx talk about men and emotions. Dr. Dorsay has a M.A. in Counseling from Santa Clara University and received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2008. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 316,353 times.

No matter if you’re in grade school or grad school, it’s natural to experience school-related stress. But school stress is also something you can successfully manage. This article lists several strategies for coping with school stress, starting with the “4 As” of stress management, then moving on to quick stress-reducers and longer-term adjustments. So, instead of letting school stress control you, take charge of your stress and enjoy your school experience!

Use the “4 As” to bust stress.

Avoid, alter, adapt, and/or accept your sources of school stress.

  • Avoid . Steer clear of people or situations that cause you stress as much as possible. Take a different route between classes, for example, or pack up your school stuff the night before so you’re not freaking out trying to get everything ready in the morning.
  • Alter . Change the circumstances that cause your stress. If you’re stressed out because your schedule is too overloaded, for example, see if you can either cut back on some of your extracurriculars or adjust your academic schedule.
  • Adapt . Adjust your response when you can’t avoid or change the cause of your stress. For example, work on reframing your perspective so you don’t get overly stressed about a single quiz that isn’t a huge deal in the larger picture.
  • Accept . Don’t try to change the reality that school always causes at least some stress. A manageable amount of stress can in fact be a good thing if it drives you to succeed. Remind yourself that your goal is to keep your stress manageable, not completely eliminate it.

Get to know your stress response.

You can react to stress faster when you know it’s coming on.

Identify your school stress triggers.

It’s hard to manage stress when you don’t know what’s causing it.

  • If you’re experiencing stress due to bullying, seek help from a teacher, administrator, counselor, or other trusted adult. Don’t try to manage the problem on your own. [4] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source

Replace negativity with positive self-talk.

Quietly repeat positive affirmations to calm and refocus your mind.

  • Try both scheduled and unscheduled positive self-talk. For instance, take a few minutes in the morning and in the evening to make positive affirmations, and also use them when you start feeling really stressed about the book report that’s due on Friday.

Make a schoolwork schedule.

Good time management and good stress management are connected.

  • You might set aside a daily block of time right after school for homework, and right after dinner for studying, for example.
  • Stick to your schedule, but also take little opportunities to get work done. If you're waiting for the bus, pull out your flashcards. Get a head start on your planned study session for later in the evening.

Rebecca Tenzer, MAT, MA, LCSW, CCTP, CGCS, CCATP, CCFP

Rebecca Tenzer, MAT, MA, LCSW, CCTP, CGCS, CCATP, CCFP

Manage school stress with good time management. To manage stress from school, it's really important to manage your time well. Break big assignments down into smaller steps, do things to take care of yourself, ask for help when you need it, and use mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises or yoga. Setting realistic goals and balancing school and fun personal interests can also help lower your stress.

Divide your work into manageable pieces.

Set aside blocks of time for each thing you need to do.

  • Break up your study time as well. Instead of trying to study for your history test for 3 hours straight the night before, break it up into 30-minute sessions each day that week. This makes it easier to process the information and keep up your morale at the same time.

Keep your school stuff organized.

Lower your stress level by keeping things easy to find and accessible.

  • When organizing your desk, for instance, put the things you use most often within arm’s reach and store things you need less often in drawers or on shelves. If you always use highlighters but rarely use white-out, put the highlighters in a cup on your desk and the white-out in an organized drawer.

Exercise to reduce stress.

30 minutes of daily exercise can alleviate stress and increase happiness.

  • When you feel the stress building up inside you, take a break and go for a jog or dance to your favorite tunes. Invite a friend to join you for an even bigger stress-busting boost!
  • Put exercise time into your daily schedule so you don’t get stressed out about finding the time to do it.
  • Chores and other mundane tasks can also count as exercise. Take your dog for a long walk, wash the car like you’re in a hurry, give the bathtub a vigorous scrubbing, and so on. Anything that gets your heart pumping and increases your breathing rate can help you handle stress.

Set aside time to relax.

Work relaxing activities into each day so you don’t get burned out.

  • So what’s the line between relaxation and procrastination? Each person’s needs are different, but you might aim to schedule an hour of dedicated relaxation time per day, along with 5-minute relaxation breaks during each hour of schoolwork.
  • There’s no “right” way to relax. If playing an intense, zombie-destroying video game helps you relax, do that. If reading a chilling horror novel gets you in the zen zone, do that. If you enjoy it and it makes you less tense, go for it!

Improve your sleep situation.

Follow a consistent sleep schedule and aim for 7-9 hours per night.

  • As much as it’s possible for you, sleep in comfortable bedding in a comfortable, dark room with limited distractions.
  • Avoid caffeine, vigorous exercise, and screen time before going to bed.
  • Set a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it—even on the weekend! Aim to go to bed and get out of bed at the same time each night and day.
  • Resist the urge to stay up all night and “cram” for a test. You’ll almost certainly do worse than you would if you studied a reasonable amount and got a solid night’s sleep.

Take a few calming breaths.

Trigger your body’s calming response with 3 slow, deep, breaths.

  • It might also help to roll your shoulders or turn your neck as you breathe, as the muscles in these areas tend to tense up and hold in a lot of stress.

Talk to someone you trust.

Discuss your stress and possible solutions with someone like a school counselor.

  • If you don't have a relationship with your school’s counseling office already, there's no better time than the present! Stop in and say hello even if you’re feeling good today—start building that connection so they can better help you when you need them.
  • In some situations, talking with a teacher, coach, administrator, parent, adult friend, or other trusted figure can also be a really helpful choice. It’s important to share your feelings with someone who will truly listen and really want to help.
  • Never feel ashamed to talk about your school stress—everyone experiences it, and you can successfully manage it!

Expert Q&A

  • Write your feelings down in a note or a diary, and if you don’t want anyone to see, just get rid of it when you're done. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
  • Don't be afraid to say no to responsibilities if you simply cannot handle the additional pressure to do them. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1
  • Don't resort to drugs, alcohol or smoking as stress reducers. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1

stress from school and work

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Deal With Stress

  • ↑ https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm
  • ↑ https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-handle-stress-in-the-moment
  • ↑ https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/get-help-now
  • ↑ https://www.verywellmind.com/top-school-stress-relievers-for-students-3145179
  • ↑ https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/homework.html
  • ↑ https://news.uga.edu/break-large-tasks-down-into-smaller-more-manageable-pieces/
  • ↑ Adam Dorsay, PsyD. Licensed Psychologist & TEDx Speaker. Expert Interview. 11 April 2019.
  • ↑ https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/how-to-relieve-stress-for-bedtime

About This Article

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How to Reduce Student Stress and Excel in School

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

stress from school and work

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

stress from school and work

Mike Kemp / Getty Images

As educational requirements become more stringent in all levels of education, students everywhere experience considerable school stress. This stress can affect performance on tests, participation in classes, and the well being of students everywhere.   Therefore, it's vital for all students to have a collection of effective stress management techniques that work.

Stress-Relief Tips to Help Achieve Success in School

The following stress relief tips and tools for students are vital for minimizing school stress. Use these in your life to learn study skills, prepare for exams and minimize stress levels to make learning easier. 

When you find stress management techniques that work for you and make them habits in your life now, you can draw upon these strategies as you face stress throughout your life. For greater success in school and life, master the following.

Manage Time Wisely

It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to work on your studies if you want to do well, and you can save yourself a lot of stress if you plan with good time management skills.  

Setting up a schedule for study, breaking up your studies into smaller chunks, and other time management skills are essential.

Setting what is known as SMART goals can be an effective way to get things done without becoming overly stressed. SMART is an acronym that reminds you to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By breaking down a larger project into smaller steps, you can progressively work toward achieving a larger goal without becoming overwhelmed.

Get Organized

Have a system of organization for note-taking, keeping track of assignments, and other important papers. Being organized can bring you the peace of mind that comes from knowing where everything is, remembering deadlines and test dates, and clearing your mind of some of the mental clutter that disorganization brings.

Keep a calendar, a schedule, and a filing system for your school assignments, and you’ll find it prevents a significant amount of stress!

Create a Good Study Environment

Creating a soothing environment can reduce stress and help you learn.

Aromatherapy , for example, is a known stress reliever, and peppermint essential oil is said to wake up your brain.   Playing classical music as you study can also soothe you and help you learn (unless you find it distracting).   

Consider what would make a good study environment for you. Each individual is different, so what works for someone else might be less than ideal for you. 

Know Your Learning Style

Learning style theories suggest that people learn information in different ways. You may find it helpful to determine whether you are more of a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner , as you can tailor your study practices around your particular learning style and make success easier to attain. 

Practice Visualizations

Visualizations and imagery are proven stress management techniques .   You can also reduce student stress and improve test performance by imagining yourself achieving your goals.

Take a few minutes each day and visualize, in detail, what you'd like to happen, whether it’s giving a presentation without getting nervous, acing an exam, or something else that will support your success. Visualization and guided imagery are the most effective when you can use all of your senses to create a vivid image. Then work hard and make it happen.

Develop Optimism

It has been proven that optimists —those who more easily shrug off failures and multiple successes—are healthier, less stressed, and more successful.   While some level of optimism is inborn, optimism is a state that can be practiced, and your overall levels of optimism can increase as a result.  Positive self-talk is a great way to start developing a stronger sense of optimism. 

Develop the traits of optimism and you'll do better in your studies and your future career.

Get Enough Sleep

If you want your performance to be optimum, you need to be well-rested. Research shows that those who are sleep-deprived have more trouble learning and remembering, and perform more poorly in many areas.   You can also be more reactive to stress when you are sleep-deprived, so there are many reasons to focus on getting quality sleep each night. 

Students are notoriously busy and sleep-deprived, so you may need to go against the grain at times in order to protect your sleep schedule, but it will be worth it both now and in the future. Work your schedule so you get enough sleep, or take power naps.

Learn Study Skills

When you know and practice specific study skills, your entire school experience becomes easier. Learning to stay focused on tasks and organized with your study schedule, for example, can enable you to get more done when you study.

Many of these skills transfer to productivity skills in your career, so they are important to know. Here are some more specific study skills and techniques that can help you improve your performance. 

Use Stress Management Techniques

Chronic stress can impair your ability to learn and remember facts as well;   stress management is one of the most important—and most overlooked—school necessities. Some effective stress management techniques include breathing exercises, taking a walk, exercising, and journaling.

Making relaxation techniques , or stress management techniques, a part of your daily routine can help your overall health and wellness and will help decrease the likelihood of going into a state of chronic stress.

A Word From Verywell

A regular stress management practice can reduce your overall stress level and help you to be prepared for whatever comes. The more you identify and practice techniques that work for you now, the more prepared you will be to cope with the challenges you face throughout your life.

Shankar NL, Park CL.  Effects of stress on students' physical and mental health and academic success . Int J School Educ Psychol . 2016;4(1):5-9, doi:10.1080/21683603.2016.1130532

Alshutwi S, Alkhanfari H, Sweedan N. The influence of time management skills on stress and academic performance level among nursing students . J Nurs Educ Prac . 2020;10(1):96-100. doi:10.5430/jnep.v10n1p96

Ali B, Al-Wabel NA, Shams S, Ahamad A, Khan SA, Anwar F. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review . Asian Pac J Trop Biomed . 2015;5(8):601-611. doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007

Lehmann JAM, Seufert T. The Influence of Background Music on Learning in the Light of Different Theoretical Perspectives and the Role of Working Memory Capacity .  Front Psychol . 2017;8:1902. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01902

Bigham E, McDannel L, Luciano I, Salgado-Lopez G. Effect of a brief guided imagery on stress . Biofeedback . 2014;42(1):28-35. doi:10.5298/1081-5937-42.1.07

Conversano C, Rotondo A, Lensi E, Della Vista O, Arpone F, Reda MA. Optimism and its impact on mental and physical well-being .  Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health . 2010;6:25–29. doi:10.2174/1745017901006010025

Krause AJ, Simon EB, Mander BA, et al. The sleep-deprived human brain .  Nat Rev Neurosci . 2017;18(7):404–418. doi:10.1038/nrn.2017.55

Vogel S, Schwabe L. Learning and memory under stress: Implications for the classroom .  NPJ Sci Learn . 2016;1:16011. doi:10.1038/npjscilearn.2016.11

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

Daniel P. Keating Ph.D.

Dealing With Stress at School in an Age of Anxiety

Building a culture of resilience at school counters a growing stress epidemic..

Posted August 15, 2017 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

  • What Is Stress?
  • Find a therapist to overcome stress

In our modern age of anxiety , many of us are so stressed out that it’s hard to maintain focus on important goals . This isn’t just in our imaginations, or because of increased sensitivities that in an earlier era we would have simply ignored or overcome. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show sharp increases in stress-related disorders and diseases over the past few decades , and the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project found that the physical stress load we carry is sharply higher over a similar time period . Even more worrisome in that report is that this stress epidemic appears to be increasing with each new generation.

Teachers and educational leaders in particular feel the stress coming from all directions—teachers are stressed, students are stressed, staff is stressed, and parents are stressed. Added to the mix are demands for compliance with multiple directives and heightened accountability from numerous sources. Dealing effectively with this system-wide stress is critical, and it helps to first understand how it works.

Early Life Adversity Impacts Mental and Physical Health: A “Vicious Cycle”

We’ve known for some time that toxic stress arising from early life adversity poses a high risk for mental as well as physical health, and recent evidence shows that these risks are long lasting. Excess stress in early life—even in the womb—can “get under the skin” to affect how the brain is wired as well as how genes are expressed . “Stress dysregulation” (SDR) is a common consequence of early adversity . It shows up in most students with a clinical mental health diagnosis, but many students even without a diagnosis exhibit behaviors—such as hair-trigger anger , inability to self-regulate or calm themselves, sudden withdrawal from learning and social interaction—that affect not only themselves but everyone in their orbit. It acts as a silent disruptor in the classroom and in school life generally.

New research findings also show that stress is contagious at a physiological level (Palumbo et al., 2017). More students are arriving at school with SDR and with difficulties in coping, making it hard to build a positive learning environment. The source of this dynamic is more obvious in schools that serve a high proportion of students from families facing major economic and social challenges, but it is also observed in schools that serve students from advantaged families with highly competitive expectations, as Denise Pope documented in Doing School .

This “vicious cycle” of disruption connects the phenomena of more stressed-out students, accelerating stress contagion at school, and increased societal demands and anxieties. This cycle poses a difficult but often unrecognized challenge for teachers and educational leaders. We don’t yet know all the social and cultural forces that contribute to this stress epidemic, although increasing inequality and decreasing social mobility surely play a role in provoking the anxiety that is at the heart of the matter. But even if educational leaders can’t directly change the larger social dynamic, they can work at the classroom, school, and system level to counteract its effects .

A Culture of Resilience at School

In doing background research for my recent book Born Anxious , I had a conversation with the principal of an alternative secondary school for high-risk students, many of whom display this SDR pattern. His approach struck a chord: building a culture of resilience throughout the school. This notion draws on extensive research on individual resilience, explained in Ann Masten’s Ordinary Magic , and extends those findings to considering how any educational organization can build support for resilience to counteract the negative effects of excess stress for everyone. Here are the key elements:

Social connections . The single most effective route to providing a more resilient developmental pathway for students with a history of adversity is through positive social connections. Schools can provide a crucially unique setting to support resilience, offering an opportunity for students to connect with teachers, coaches, and mentors who exhibit caring and concern for students, communicating to them that they do matter to important adults in their lives. In addition, schools can create a context for meaningful engagement and participation in a larger community in which positive social connections can flourish (Eccles & Roeser, 2013).

The principal I spoke with described an exemplary scenario. One particularly troubled student, with an extensive history of early and continuing adversity, seemingly could not be reached when he arrived. A teacher kept probing to find any point of connection, and would not give up. Eventually, finding an interest in popular music that was meaningful to the student, the teacher began making innovative links, both to the curriculum and to broader social issues. Taking the time for this kind of “super-nurturing” doesn’t happen in a vacuum—it requires a culture of resilience as well as committed teachers. This student became one of the school’s best “turn-around” successes.

Neither of these—involved teachers and an engaged community—is automatic. Both depend predominantly on educational leadership within the organization to promote a culture of resilience. And a key part of that culture is that it needs to include not only students but also the whole organization, which in turn requires a collegial, collaborative leadership model, such as the one described by Michael Fullan in The Six Secrets of Change . This emphasis on positive social connections also highlights the reality that effectively counteracting the ravages of excess stress is critical not only for students, but also for teachers, staff, and education leaders themselves.

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Mindfulness in action . The practice of mindfulness has received increasing attention in educational practice recently, and for good reasons. Social connections lead to resilience through social support and socio-emotional learning, but also biologically, as they counteract the stress hormone cortisol (Keating, 2017). Mindfulness confers benefits similar to social connection, but using the uniquely powerful part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, propelling us toward a habitual focus on the present and the opportunities it offers, while minimizing rumination about the past or fear of the future. For organizations, this implies thoughtfully learning the lessons from past experiences combined with openness to a well-considered, collaborative process of change. For individuals and for organizations, a mindful approach provides a valuable “workaround” for stressful times, allowing us to avoid anxiety-driven responses that launch an excessive stress response.

Attention to the physical . A third major approach to supporting resilience and counteracting toxic stress is to attend to the physical domain. Although not always seen as central to the educational mission, there are crucial supports as well as risks that can be identified and implemented. Physical exercise is a readily available, highly effective method of stress reduction, and one that can be promoted in school settings as part of the school day and/or through extra-curricular opportunities that are available to all, not just to elite high school athletes.

A second major physical contributor to personal resilience is sufficient sleep. Sleep deficits are a major risk factor for a range of mental and physical health problems, as well as depleting the ability to cope with stress. The challenges to learning arising from early start times, especially for teens, have been increasingly recognized, but their impact on mental health and the ability to cope with stress are equally important.

The dangers of short-term “remedies” for feeling overstressed and being unable to cope with demands are also essential: comfort food and psychoactive substances can provide instant relief but are highly likely to lead to long-term problems. Education that highlights and explains these risks can be effective, along with the provision of healthy nutrition options during the school day.

It’s important to emphasize that these supports for resilience and for counteracting excess stress are just as important for teachers, staff, and leaders as they are for students . The pathways to teacher burnout and student burnout travel the same route, and benefit from the same protective factors: social connection; mindfulness; and taking care of the physical dimension. A bonus to this approach is that they can benefit everyone, even those not at risk from toxic stress or mental health challenges.

Building a Culture of Resilience for Mental Health, Learning, and Positive Development

Drawing on what we know about how supporting resilience, it is clear that a leadership style that integrates collaboration , social connection, and mindful attention to current challenges offers the best opportunity for moving toward and sustaining a culture of resilience. Articulating this approach as an explicit goal, and bringing all the stakeholders—including parents—on board creates the basis for sustainable progress toward building a culture of resilience.

The impact of the stress epidemic and of increasing SDR among students is felt in all areas of the school experience. It clearly interferes with learning, not only for the students who struggle with staying in the game while feeling highly stressed, but for teachers and the rest of class who need to cope with the resulting disruptions.

When it begins to manifest as diagnosable mental health issues, which will be true at some point for about 25% of students (Merikangas et al., 2010), providing an appropriate blend of services becomes paramount. The need for a comprehensive approach is acute, pulling together a shift toward a culture of resilience but also providing a range of prevention and intervention services. A helpful organizational framework is to think of such services as existing along a continuum from universal services helpful for everyone (mindfulness, coping strategies), to targeted services for at-risk students, to direct clinical or educational services for students with an existing diagnosis. Although these are often not exclusively school-based, they are more effective when there is close coordination between schools and community-based mental health providers.

A hopeful direction for teachers and educational leaders at all levels is that a better awareness of the sources of the stress epidemic will enable a broader and more effective approach to dealing with it. Rather than adding a new stressor, the path toward a culture of resilience has the potential to be helpful in coping with these increasing challenges, both personally and for organizations. This can benefit all students as well as school professionals, and function as a major support for positive youth development.

Center on the Developing Child (2007). The Impact of Early Adversity on Child Development (InBrief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu .

Eccles, J. S., & Roeser, R. W. (2013). Schools as developmental contexts during adolescence. In R. M. Lerner et al. (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Developmental psychology (pp. 321-337). Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Keating, D. P., (2016). The transformative role of epigenetics in child development research. Child Development , 87 (1), 135-142.

Keating, D. P. (2017). Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity – and How to Break the Cycle. New York: St. Martin’s Press. stmartins.com/bornanxious

Merikangas KR, He JP, Brody D, Fisher PW, Bourdon K, Koretz DS. (2010). Prevalence and treatment of mental disorders among US children in the 2001-2004 NHANES . Pediatrics, 125(1):75-81.

Palumbo, R. V., Marraccini, M. E., Weyandt, L. L., Wilder-Smith, O., McGee, H. A., Liu, S., & Goodwin, M. S. (2017). Interpersonal autonomic physiology: A systematic review of the literature . Personality and Social Psychology Review, 21(2):99-141.

Schanzenbach, D. W., Bauer, L., Mumford, M., & Nunn, R. (2016). Money Lightens the Load. Brookings Institution: The Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

Walker, T. (2016). Educators Look to Parents and Communities To Help Reduce Student Stress. NEA Today . (Retrieved at http://neatoday.org/2016/09/16/reducing-student-stress/ )

Daniel P. Keating Ph.D.

Daniel P. Keating, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics, and Research Professor, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

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Managing Stress in High School

Our reasons may vary, but everyone experiences stress. Here are some of the common reasons high school students feel stressed, and what they can do about it.

Pamela Reynolds

Exams. Choosing a college. Figuring out what to do with your life.

No doubt, high school can be a high-pressure time in life. And high school students, as a result, get stressed out.  

In fact, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2020 survey, teens who are already under stress due to the normal pressures of high school have felt even more stress in recent years, thanks to the pandemic. About 43 percent of teens surveyed in 2020 said their stress levels had gone up, and 45 percent said they had a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. Many reported feeling less motivated.

Although life has mostly returned back to normal, that doesn’t mean the stress that high school students feel has disappeared. 

The typical challenges that anyone faces in high school continue as they always have, and, in some cases, have grown more complicated. Consequently, surveys suggest, many teens continue to experience a decline in mental and physical health. 

If you’re in high school and stressed, we get it. In this blog, we’ll talk about what stress is, what triggers it, and how you can manage it. 

What is Stress?

“Stress” is a term we use constantly in conversation, but what does it really mean? 

Stress can be defined as our physical and mental responses to some external event. The event might be considered “good” like preparing to go to the prom, or bad, like feeling tense after an illness, an argument with a friend, or while preparing for an upcoming test. 

The good thing about most stress is that it usually goes away once the external event causing the stress is over. 

Alternatively, there is a type of stress that results more from an internal dialogue than an external event. We call this “anxiety.” It involves persistent feelings of dread or apprehension that interfere with your daily life, even after the test, the argument, or prom, are just a distant memory. 

Why Are Teens So Stressed? 

Simply being a teenager can be hard. Your body is changing. You may be grappling with your sexuality or gender identity. Add to that the academic demands of high school and throw in the pressures of social media, and the tension mounts. 

“Some of the common triggers of stress in teens might be anxiety to perform well in academics such as getting into a good college, peer pressure, interpersonal relationships, or body image issues,” says Sakshi Khurana, Research Fellow at Harvard’s Weisz Lab for Youth Mental Health. “Other larger issues that the world is going through — for example, climate change or war— might also act as stressors for teens as they are learning about the world.”

The most common source of stress for high school students, according to the 2017 APA Stress survey , is school itself, with about 83 percent of teens identifying school as a major stressor. The second biggest source of student stress, (according to 69 percent of students), was getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school. The third biggest teen stress was financial concerns for the family (65 percent of students). 

Here’s a quick breakdown of broad categories of factors that may stress you out:

  • Academics. In high school, not only are you worried about next week’s English, History or Calculus exam, but you’re also worried about applying to college and taking the SAT tests, too. It can all feel overwhelming, and you may feel pressure to please your parents and teachers.
  • Social Stress. Even without the pressures of academics, life in high school can be demanding. Dealing with friends and classmates, starting new romantic relationships, handling bullies and peer pressure both online and off, can be a lot to handle.
  • Family Issues. If your parents are divorcing, if your family is experiencing financial problems, or even if you just have trouble getting along with siblings, your stress levels can go up.
  • Trauma . Dramatic life events ranging from a death in the family, to an accident, to emotional and physical abuse, can cause stress. Also in this category, you can include the collective trauma of such global events such as school shootings, terrorism, and natural disasters. 
  • Big Life Changes . Changes like moving and starting a new school can be a major stress for teens. 

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What are Signs of Stress in High School Students?

If you’re a high school student feeling stressed, you may not even recognize the symptoms. 

In fact, many symptoms of stress might be considered normal for teens who are also dealing with natural hormonal and physical changes. For that reason, it’s important to consider whether behavioral changes can be linked in time to an external event. 

Signs of stress include:

  • Feeling more agitated, anxious, short-tempered, or depressed  
  • Getting sick more often
  • Having more headaches, stomachaches, or other aches and pains
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Skipping meals or overeating 
  • Neglecting chores or hobbies 
  • Trouble concentrating and forgetfulness
  • High blood pressure

According to the APA 2017 survey, the most common symptoms of stress among teens were insomnia, overeating or eating unhealthy foods, skipping meals, feeling angry, nervous, or anxious, feeling fatigued, and snapping at friends and classmates.

Why is Stress so Problematic for Teens?

Let’s be clear, a little bit of stress is a normal part of life, and sometimes even desirable. 

Stress can act as a motivator, getting us to do things we might not otherwise. Good stress is called “eustress” and can help get you excited and energized about that first date or taking the stage in your first musical.

But too much unrelieved stress can lead to mental and physical health issues.  

Your body reacts to stress by releasing a hormone called cortisol which regulates blood pressure and immune function. If you’re stressed all the time and your body produces too much cortisol, it can lower your immunity, raise your blood pressure, and impair your cognitive performance.

In teens, the part of the brain regulating the stress response is less developed than in adults, meaning that if you’re a stressed-out teen, you may experience stress longer than an adult. 

“In the teen years, due to hormonal changes, stress tends to influence the emotional functioning of the brain, which in turn impacts the cognitive and executive functioning,” says Khurana.

You might not be able to sleep, you may overeat, or develop digestive, cardiovascular, or immune problems. Stress can even put you at a higher risk for developing mental illnesses like anxiety or depression . 

What are the Best Techniques to Help Students Manage Stress?

Since too much stress is not a good thing for your mind or body, you should think about incorporating a few stress management techniques into your daily life. 

“A few techniques that might help teens manage stress are relaxation through deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness, channeling energy into sports or creative pursuits such as music, art, theater, and forming meaningful relationships or friendships,” says Khurana. “Additionally, every culture has its own way of enabling young people to manage stress, so drawing from those traditions might be helpful as well.”

Here are few ideas of how high school students can learn how to deal with stress at school: 

  • Keeping a journal
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating healthy, regular meals
  • Making sure you get enough sleep  
  • Downloading an app that provides relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing or visualization) or tips for practicing mindfulness
  • Limiting excess caffeine in soft drinks or coffee
  • Reaching out to friends or family members who help you cope in a positive way
  • Making time to do fun things
  • Learning to recognize and prepare for stressful periods by doing all of the above

With so many big life decisions ahead, getting through high school happy and whole can definitely feel challenging at times. It’s easy to see why so many high school students feel stressed. The good news is that there are solutions. Adopt the strategies above, take a deep breath, and remember, it’s not forever! 

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About the Author

Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”

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School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Patti Neighmond

stress from school and work

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill. Toni Greaves for NPR hide caption

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

And the pressure is taking a physical toll, too. At age 16, Nora is tired, is increasingly irritated with her siblings and often suffers headaches, her mother says.

Teens Talk Stress

When NPR asked on Facebook if stress is an issue for teenagers, they spoke loud and clear:

  • "Academic stress has been a part of my life ever since I can remember," wrote Bretta McCall, 16, of Seattle. "This year I spend about 12 hours a day on schoolwork. I'm home right now because I was feeling so sick from stress I couldn't be at school. So as you can tell, it's a big part of my life!"
  • "At the time of writing this, my weekend assignments include two papers, a PowerPoint to go with a 10-minute presentation, studying for a test and two quizzes, and an entire chapter (approximately 40 pages) of notes in a college textbook," wrote Connor West of New Jersey.
  • "It's a problem that's basically brushed off by most people," wrote Kelly Farrell in Delaware. "There's this mentality of, 'You're doing well, so why are you complaining?' " She says she started experiencing symptoms of stress in middle school, and was diagnosed with panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in high school.
  • "Parents are the worst about all of this," writes Colin Hughes of Illinois. "All I hear is, 'Work harder, you're a smart kid, I know you have it in you, and if you want to go to college you need to work harder.' It's a pain."

Parents are right to be worried about stress and their children's health, says Mary Alvord , a clinical psychologist in Maryland and public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association.

"A little stress is a good thing," Alvord says. "It can motivate students to be organized. But too much stress can backfire."

Almost 40 percent of parents say their high-schooler is experiencing a lot of stress from school, according to a new NPR poll conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. In most cases, that stress is from academics, not social issues or bullying, the poll found. (See the full results here .)

Homework was a leading cause of stress, with 24 percent of parents saying it's an issue.

Teenagers say they're suffering, too. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all teens — 45 percent — said they were stressed by school pressures.

Chronic stress can cause a sense of panic and paralysis, Alvord says. The child feels stuck, which only adds to the feeling of stress.

Parents can help put the child's distress in perspective, particularly when they get into what Alvord calls catastrophic "what if" thinking: "What if I get a bad grade, then what if that means I fail the course, then I'll never get into college."

Then move beyond talking and do something about it.

stress from school and work

Colleen pets her horse, Bishop. They had been missing out on rides together because of homework. Toni Greaves for NPR hide caption

Colleen pets her horse, Bishop. They had been missing out on rides together because of homework.

That's what 16-year-old Colleen Frainey of Tualatin, Ore., did. As a sophomore last year, she was taking all advanced courses. The pressure was making her sick. "I didn't feel good, and when I didn't feel good I felt like I couldn't do my work, which would stress me out more," she says.

Mom Abigail Frainey says, "It was more than we could handle as a family."

With encouragement from her parents, Colleen dropped one of her advanced courses. The family's decision generated disbelief from other parents. "Why would I let her take the easy way out?" Abigail Frainey heard.

But she says dialing down on academics was absolutely the right decision for her child. Colleen no longer suffers headaches or stomachaches. She's still in honors courses, but the workload this year is manageable.

Even better, Colleen now has time to do things she never would have considered last year, like going out to dinner with the family on a weeknight, or going to the barn to ride her horse, Bishop.

Psychologist Alvord says a balanced life should be the goal for all families. If a child is having trouble getting things done, parents can help plan the week, deciding what's important and what's optional. "Just basic time management — that will help reduce the stress."

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stress from school and work

Dealing with school stress: its causes and how to manage it

Receiving an education is an important step in the lives of many — it can be both useful and rewarding. However, school is often a cause of stress and anxiety for a large number of students. While it can seem overwhelming, with the right techniques, the stress caused by school can be manageable.

Is School Stress Normal?

Stress is a normal part of everyday life, both in and outside of school. Some stress is good — it motivates us to do our best and meet the challenges ahead. However, negative stress — known scientifically as distress — is usually felt when it feels like we don’t have the means or abilities to face a conflict. This feeling can be overwhelming and hard to work through. 

School stress is normal and experienced by many students. According to a study by NYU, 49% of students experience stress caused by school on a daily basis. 

Below are some of the most common stressors in school:

  • Navigating social lives
  • Adjusting to routine changes and transitions
  • Pressure to be successful
  • Finding or identifying support systems
  • Time management

What Is the Most Stressful Year of School?

While school can cause stress across all years, high school is considered by some to be a uniquely stressful period. This is because it is a time of great developmental and social change which, on top of the regular demands of school, can be quite difficult to navigate. Some stress factors that are especially common among high school students are:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Relocating or changing schools
  • Living in an unsafe neighborhood
  • Low self-esteem
  • Physical changes
  • Change in family structure (divorce or death)
  • Perfectionism or unreasonably high expectations
  • Chronic illness
  • Anxiety about future plans
  • Difficulty with social relationships

A student writes with a pencil on a piece of paper at a desk

Does School Cause Stress and Anxiety?

School can cause a lot of stress and anxiety as it comes with a host of possible threats. Although many of these are not guaranteed or even likely, just the thought of them can be anxiety-inducing. Commonly anticipated threats include those that threaten our physical and mental or emotional health:

  • Physical threats: abuse/mistreatment, shooting/death, and neglect.
  • Emotional threats: bullying/teasing, condescending statements, and being retained/held back.

School also presents a variety of demands that can feel difficult to meet. Some possible stress-causing demands are:

  • Preparing for quizzes and upcoming tests
  • Forming relationships
  • Adhering to schedules
  • Complying to the requests of teachers 
  • Completing homework assignments
  • Getting good grades

Is School a Main Cause of Depression?

School could be a contributing factor to depression. A recent study found that an inability to handle stress is linked to depression — so, a stressful environment such as school could lead to depression in this way. 

In addition, social connections are often made at school and while many of these relationships are positive, they can also be the source of discomfort and strife. Bullying, rejection, and social isolation are often related to depression. One study found that low self-esteem , a perceived lack of social support, and inefficient problem-solving skills were prevalent risk factors among high school students.

Additionally, young people feeling pressure to perform well in school can lead to decreased self-esteem, another gateway to depression. All of that said, it’s important to remember that depression can be caused by a variety of contributing factors, such as genetics, life circumstances, substance use, and changes to the brain.  

Is School Bad for Your Mental Health?

School can be bad for your mental health. At its most basic level, school is harmless; it is a place where people can acquire skills, knowledge, and values. However, certain conditions in school can contribute to poor mental health. 

Some of the negative impacts school can have on your mental health include:

  • Vulnerability to stress
  • Bullying, abuse, or intimidation
  • Integration of communities of people with various beliefs and values, coupled with poor emotional regulation skills
  • Being asked to participate in things that go against personal values and beliefs

There is also a variety of aspects of school that are good for your mental health. School can be beneficial to your mental health in the way that it: 

  • Provides credible knowledge in an organized, easy-to-learn fashion
  • Prioritizes safety by implementing screening processes and background checks
  • Employs skilled instructors that guide you through materials
  • Emphasizes diversity and inclusion
  • Develop skills like problem-solving, social skills, time management, conflict resolution, assertiveness

If you feel that the negative impacts of school are outweighing the positive, it’s important to seek help or try strategies to mitigate them. 

What to Do If School is Too Stressful? How to Deal With School Stress and Anxiety?

There are a variety of ways to cope when you feel stressed because of school. Some responses include: 

  • Identifying resources. Reach out to your parents , teachers, friends, or a counselor for ongoing support. And if you’re ever in a crisis and need immediate help, please call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
  • Using coping skills . There are many ways to adjust to deal with stress. Self-talk, self-soothing touches, and speaking to a trusted loved one are just a few strategies for coping.
  • Reducing demands. Ask for extensions on stressful assignments, or try to distinguish the tasks you need to complete from those that are less important.
  • Practicing self-care . Eat regular and balanced meals, engage in physical activity, and get an appropriate amount of sleep to reduce stress symptoms.
  • Trying relaxation techniques. Guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and diaphragmatic breathing can help moderate feelings of stress.
  • Focusing on what is within your control. Let go of the things you have no power over, and try to focus on making changes where you can.

While some stress at school is normal, it doesn’t have to feel uncontrollable. With the right coping mechanisms, academic stress can become manageable and could even help you succeed in the classroom. If you are struggling to manage your stress alone, please consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can not only offer a listening ear but also equip you with strategies to handle stressful situations.  

Published Jun 13, 2023

Features 3 cited research articles.

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Communications, N. W. (2015, August 11). NYU study examines top high school students’ stress and coping mechanisms . NYU. https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2015/august/nyu-study-examines-top-high-school-students-stress-and-coping-mechanisms.html

MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Stress response in key brain region may explain depression . Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/inability-of-a-brain-region-to-adapt-to-stress-may-lead-to-depression

Eskin, M. (2008). [prevalence of and factors related to depression in high school students] . Turkish Journal of Psychiatry. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19110980200 

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School Life Balance , Tips for Online Students

12 Best Tips to Balance School and Work

8-Best-Tips-How-to-Balance-School-and-Work

Learning how to balance school and work is exactly that — a balancing act. Choosing to further your education at college requires both dedication and perseverance. This is especially true when you have to hold down a job. You’ll have to find ways to get schoolwork done and tend to your work responsibilities, all the while avoiding burnout.

For some students, you will also have to take care of your family. It’s very clear that with all the different aspects of life, finding alone time and time for friends is also necessary.

That’s why learning how to balance college and work is a strong skill to hone as early as possible in your academic career. There are a variety of ways to achieve doing so.

Let’s take a look at some strategies and ideas.

To-Do List

Source: Unsplash

Tips for finding balance, 1. learn time management.

Perhaps the most important tool, which may seem obvious, is learning time management . Time management is defined as the “ability to use one’s time effectively or productively,” and for the most, it’s easier said than done. That’s because many people fall into the habit of procrastination, or putting off what has to be done for later.

Responsibilities like school and work are hard to prioritize when fun alternatives exist, but once you manage your time, you will be able to alleviate stress and be more successful.

Some useful tools for time management include:

  • Update Your Schedule: You don’t have to have a type A personality to learn how to schedule your time. Start by leveraging a digital calendar or buying a planner to divide up your time in advance of your week. That way, you can schedule your time in to get the things you need to do and then also make time for fun activities like socializing, sports, hobbies, and more. Keep it up-to-date so that you don’t miss anything important and can plan ahead.
  • Break Up Your Tasks: When you have a lot of tasks to get done, try to break up your to-do list into smaller and more approachable bits of activity. For example, if you have to read four chapters of a textbook for a test, read two chapters a day for two days, or one chapter a day for four days. Do whatever it takes to make tasks more approachable so that you limit procrastination and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed.

2. Do What You Enjoy

While it’s not always possible or financially feasible, you should try to find a job that you actually enjoy. Although this is not always in your control, train yourself to see the good in whatever job you do so that you can approach work with a positive mindset.

Love What You Study

In the same way, you should learn about things that you are interested in learning about. More often than not, you have the opportunity to major in and study what you actually like. If you’re not pressured by family to major in a particular field of study, choose what you are interested in so that learning piques your curiosity rather than squanders it.

3. Communicate

Although it seems intuitive, many people forget to take this step. If you are a student who has a job, be sure you tell your boss that you are in school. Most business owners and managers will be accommodating to this situation and help you to create a schedule that works best for your school time, too. Additionally, they may even be willing to provide you with time off during exams or big projects.

Depending on the type of school you attend, you can also create a flexible schedule around your job. This is especially doable if you attend an online school like the University of the People, where everything happens online. As such, you can study whenever and wherever you choose, which makes it easier to hold down a job while you learn.

4. Support Circle

One of the most important things to remember, especially when you inevitably feel overwhelmed, is that you are not alone. A lot of people are in the same situation as you, balancing work and school. By connecting with people who are in the same boat, you can learn tips and tricks from your peers.

Ask For Help

Additionally, by having a support circle, you can lean on people for help when you need it and offer help when you have the time and energy to do so.

5. Use Time Wisely

Going hand in hand with time management is learning tips and tricks to maximize the use of your time. This can happen in several ways, including finding jobs and schools that are near where you live (or online). That way, you can cut out the time it takes to commute which can add up to a lot of extra hours in a week.

Additionally, when you cook meals, cook extra on purpose so you can save some for the rest of the week. This tactic is known as meal prepping.

Furthermore, when you set time limits on social media, you will be able to allocate the time wasted to completing more important tasks, like studying. There are tools on most phones that can help you set application limits and refocus your time. You need to know your limits and trust your abilities when you are using your time wisely.

Importantly, listen to your body and mind and know when you need to take a break and hit reset to avoid burning out.

Leverage Your Natural Tendencies

Get to know yourself. If you tend to be a night owl and have most of your energy at night, then dedicate that time to learning material that is more challenging. If you’re a morning person, get up early and knock off tasks from your to-do list. Spend the time that you’re most productive working on the most challenging work, or subjects that require extra energy and effort.

6. To-Do List

A really simple strategy to master your time is to create and use a to-do list. Oftentimes, you can forget a task because you didn’t write it down. You can reduce feelings of the stress of having to remember everything when you write down what you have to do.

When you are writing down things you have to get done, you can also create a distraction to-do list. This is done by writing down things that are causing you to lose your focus when you are working on a task. When you take a break, you can revisit your distraction to-do list and go through each line item. This tactic helps to keep you focused.

There are optimal ways to structure a to-do list, and this includes organizing it in numerical order based on priority. Your priorities likely constantly shift, so be sure you keep your to-do list up-to-date. For school tasks, a simple method for prioritization is to base the list off of the nearest deadlines.

7. Procrastinate Productively

Procrastination is bound to happen, but you can procrastinate strategically. If you don’t want to perform a specific task at a specific time, try another one that you have to get done.

For example, if you are not feeling focused enough to get reading done, cross something else off your list by cleaning or organizing.

Our moods and the time of day is bound to affect our concentration levels, so it’s okay to not feel ready to do something you have to do. But, rather than wasting time, shift your focus to another necessary to-do on your list.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is working ahead. If you have the extra time and energy to get something done, even if it’s very early in the timeline, this will free up time in your future. It can also help to alleviate stress during your busy weeks. Whenever possible, working ahead is like buying extra time for your future self.

8. Overlapping

Whether your job is directly related to your school or not at all, try to find the places in which work and school overlap. In these cases, you can apply one skill to another area of your life and reap the benefits.

For example, if you work in a marketing department, you can use the skills you learn for presentations and communication to study better and/or create more interesting school projects.

9. Take Breaks

Burnout is a side effect of chronic stress related to school or work. It is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of reduced ability to function. In order to avoid or reduce such feelings, you should know how to take effective breaks.

Make Time for Yourself

You can schedule breaks into your weekly planner or use techniques where you focus for 25 minutes straight and then break for 5-10 minutes — this is known as the Pomodoro Technique. When you take a break, do something you like or go for a walk. Try to let your brain rest and reset before jumping back into work.

When you don’t have to get anything done, spend time doing things that you enjoy and removing your mind for work and school. Whether that involves pampering yourself at a spa, going on a hike, reading, being with friends, etc.m you need to take time for yourself.

If you are tired, it’s hard to be productive and have good energy for anything. When you sleep, you give your body and brain the time it needs to recuperate. That’s why sleep is so important. It also helps to regulate your hormones and body functioning. Of course, there will be times when you are not getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night, but it should be your goal. If you properly manage your time and make the most out of your hours of productivity, you should be able to get to sleep at a decent hour and then wake up early to get to work the next day!

11. Your Work and Study Space

Your environment is of utmost importance when you study. You want to be sure that you set yourself up in a comfortable setting with everything you need to be productive. From ensuring you have food and water, to adequate lighting and distraction-less work space, these considerations will play a big role in your ability to stay focused.

12. Remember Your Goals

When the going gets tough, it’s especially important to remember why you started and remember your goals. It may help to write these down somewhere you can see them, like a whiteboard or on a post-it on your mirror for extra motivation.

Celebrate Small Wins

Consider setting up a positive feedback loop through the form of rewards for yourself. When you complete an assignment or get positive feedback from work, take the time to celebrate these wins by doing something you love.

High School and Part-Time Work

If you’re still in high school and you have a part-time job, the aforementioned tips can help you, too.

However, as a high school student, you may need to rely more on support from your family. Talk about your schedule with your family and ask for their advice. Also, consider starting with less hours per week until you get into a flow and can be sure that you can balance both work and school. If you feel you are able to take on more work, talk to your boss about adding more hours to your schedule.

The good thing about working part-time during high school is not only that you will be on your way to financial independence, but you will also be honing skills like time management and responsibility that will help you when you start college.

Online Opportunities

Working and going to school takes dedication, perseverance, time management, and importantly, a positive attitude. Although it’s a challenge to balance both, there are online universities that can make this balancing act easier to manage.

The University of the People offers a place where students can earn their degree in four subjects on their own time. Students can choose to major in Computer Science, Business Administration, Health Science or Education. With online education, you have the power to choose when and where you study.

In fact, 98% of our enrolled students also work while attending school. Therefore, you will be able to lean on the support of peers who understand your situation and can help share effective strategies for balancing school and work.

Agenda book to schedule time

The Choice is Yours

However, you decide to balance school and work is up to you. From setting a schedule in advance to asking for help, you are capable of managing all your responsibilities! By practicing a positive mindset and using your time wisely, you will set yourself up for success in all aspects of your life.

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 ·  Aug 15, 2018

Managing school stress: why creating a "school-life" balance matters.

Responsibilities piling up, competing demands, lack of time. Just reading this may make your heart start to race a little. Does the word stress come to mind? Stress is a normal part of the human experience, and in fact, can be useful − mild levels of stress have the ability to motivate us to get our work done and even stimulate creativity. 1 , 2 Individuals, however, may vary in the amount of stress they can handle and in the methods they use to manage it. When stress levels extend beyond a normal range and methods to cope with it are ineffective, your health will begin to feel the negative effects. 1 , 2 Unchecked levels of stress can lead to both physical and psychological problems, including gastrointestinal issues, a weakened immune system, difficulties sleeping and an increased risk of depression and anxiety. 1 , 2

While humans experience stress all throughout their lives, it can be heightened at certain stages of life. One of these particular periods of prolonged high stress is the pursuit of higher education, such as college and graduate school. This period in life is characterized by a variety of potential stressors including interpersonal relationships (with friends, romantic interests, professors, etc.), financial concerns, worries about the future and expectations to achieve. 3 , 4 To exacerbate the problem, the demands of academic life further compound the everyday stressors that students experience. 1 If left unaddressed, high levels of stress in an academic setting can lead to student burnout, dropout and overall impairment to academic functioning. 1 , 4

Preventing the negative impacts of stress requires ongoing efforts. Outside of a school context, stress management efforts among adults are part of the pursuit of work-life balance, a growing topic of conversation and research as workplaces increasingly try to support employees in managing their commitments across work, family, life and leisure. Because students possess their own unique set of concerns, applying the idea of work-life balance to those in college or graduate school introduces some distinct challenges. Unlike other forms of work that may have set caps on working hours or obligatory personal days, the life of a college or grad student is more amorphous. With no set schedule per se, it can be difficult to assign the appropriate amount of time to various activities and responsibilities. These commitments may come into direct conflict with one another, pulling a student’s attention and resources in a variety of directions. For example, many students struggle to achieve a balance between their social and academic goals, and this kind of goal conflict is often what makes students cite a lowered sense of wellbeing. 6

Striving toward a school-life balance is a healthy coping mechanism for students seeking to better manage their stress. For example, fitting in time to go to the gym or take a walk in between classes is not only good for your physical health but will also boost your mood and make you feel that your energy is not all consumed by academic life. There are numerous other strategies, such as listening to music, seeking social support from friends and family, practicing deep breathing or journaling. 4 , 5

Ultimately, the school-life balance looks different to each person, and it’s important to consider what balance looks and feels like for each individual. 7 , 8 Balance does not necessarily mean an even split, as true balance between all the different components in life is elusive for most individuals, whether they are students or not. 7 A more realistic ‘balance’ may feel more like a satisfaction with how much time and energy each activity takes up. While some of the contributors to school-related stress are part of the larger higher education structure, there are strategies that individuals can use to strive toward a more balanced student life, such as:

  • Set a schedule: planning ahead and writing your activities out can help you keep track of your time and assess whether your division of time is supportive of your ‘balance’ and well-being. 9
  • Know your limits: monitor your stress levels and when you start to feel yourself passing your threshold, make time to care for yourself. Caring for yourself could include activities like exercising, meditating or practicing positive self-talk. 9
  • Be present: focusing on what is happening in the current moment will help to avoid distractions from your future activities, allowing you to be more engaged with what is meaningful right now. 9
  • Ask for help: knowing when to ask for help can be tricky, but don’t be afraid to rely on your support system should you need a little extra boost. 9

Explore the  Mind Concept  in  WELL v2  to learn more about interventions in buildings and communities that can support better stress management or the  WELL AP program  to discover how you can get involved in the movement to create healthier spaces for people everywhere. 

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Please note you do not have access to teaching notes, balancing the demands of school and work: stress and employed hospitality students.

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN : 0959-6119

Article publication date: 1 June 2004

Stress can be viewed as a positive or negative experience in the lives and performance of today's college students. This study examined exposure to stressors among student‐employees (i.e. those enrolled in hospitality programs while concurrently employed in the hospitality industry). Results could not only help employers, but also hospitality program administrators and faculty more aptly meet the needs of this group by providing services that would help manage student stress and thus enhance well‐being and increase retention. Based on responses obtained from a sample of students in the great lakes region of the USA, the results suggest no significant differences in stress ratings based on hours worked per week, GPA or the number of jobs held. However, females, freshmen and full‐time (versus part‐time) students reported a greater degree of exposure to stressors.

  • Hospitality education

Jogaratnam, G. and Buchanan, P. (2004), "Balancing the demands of school and work: stress and employed hospitality students", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management , Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 237-245. https://doi.org/10.1108/09596110410537397

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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School Stress: How Student Life Affects Your Teen

School stress can be a significant challenge for teens. Academic performance and relationship issues are just two of the many factors that can take a mental, emotional, and physical toll on teenagers’ minds and bodies. 

To understand how stress affects teenagers and how parents can support them and promote good mental health, we spoke with Madison Little, a licensed associate counselor who has counseled many teens dealing with school pressure. Little is a therapist at the Embark Behavioral Health outpatient therapy clinic in Phoenix, Arizona . 

Table of contents

How unhealthy stress can affect teens , how good stress can affect teens , homework , midterms , finals , going back to school , procrastination , academic performance , relationships , school violence and fear of shootings , 1. make homework less stressful , 2. support your teen as they go back to school , 3. help your teen balance work and school , 4. teach your teen time management skills , 5. encourage your teen to build and reach out to a support network of family, friends, and fellow students , 6. teach your teen how to handle peer pressure and difficult relationships , 7. practice healthy habits with your teen , 8. talk to your teen about school violence , 9. reach out to a therapist for help , school stress: wrapup , how does school stress affect mental health .

When it comes to student mental health , it’s important to point out that school stress isn’t always a problem, as stress itself is not always a problem. Good stress, which feels manageable, builds resilience and is necessary for growth. The issue is unhealthy stress (also known as “distress”), which feels unmanageable and can negatively impact teens. 

“With distress, we fear a negative or undesired outcome,” Little said. “It decreases focus, increases procrastination, and is experienced as fear or concern. It’s overwhelming.” 

As a result, teens could experience: 

  • Anxiety. 
  • Depression . 
  • Social withdrawal and isolation. 
  • Low self-esteem. 
  • Insecurity. 
  • Substance abuse . 

“A positive response to stress is often experienced as excitement or a healthy anticipation for something,” Little said. “It feels more manageable and is often associated with confidence — when we can expect a desired or positive outcome.” 

Teenagers experiencing this positive response to stress can be motivated to study for exams, complete assignments, and recall information more accurately, leading to: 

  • Academic success. 
  • High self-esteem. 
  • Strong relationships and a good support network . 
  • Newly developed skills and knowledge. 

Why Is School So Stressful? 

Why is school stressful? School stressors can come from several different sources, and it’s important to identify how your teen reacts to and deals with these various aspects of middle school and high school life. 

Homework helps students practice the skills they learn in class and prepare for exams. It can be a positive stressor that promotes growth. However, excessive assignments can lead to homework causing unhealthy stress . As a result, teens could experience: 

  • Sleeping problems . 
  • Headaches. 
  • Digestive issues. 

What’s an excessive number of assignments that can lead to homework causing unhealthy stress? According to the National Education Association , many school districts assign 10 minutes of homework per grade level. The NEA noted that amount could be adjusted up or down based on a student’s needs. 

Exams 

While it’s normal to feel some tension and worry about an upcoming test, exam, or presentation, once the stress overwhelms a student’s ability to focus and perform well, it’s unhealthy.   

Midterm stress can happen as students study for their exams and worry about an upcoming test. Excessive worry can show up as difficulty sleeping, headaches, and upset stomachs. 

Finals stress can affect any student but can be especially challenging for high school juniors applying to colleges, as their grades will be important to their applications. This can cause students to worry excessively, leading to difficulty concentrating, negative thinking, and self-criticism. 

The beginning of a new school year can be a difficult time for students worried about entering a new school, handling changing relationships, and adjusting to new routines. The uncertainty they face can cause teens to experience back-to-school stress.  

While working at a part-time job allows teenagers to not only earn money but also learn about responsibility and time management, it can also lead to work and school stress. Students must balance fulfilling their job duties with keeping up with their homework, studying, and performing well on tests. 

Waiting until the last minute to study for an exam or finish homework has been a problem for students for generations. It’s important to note that procrastination is often about trying to minimize stress by putting it out of one’s mind. It’s an attempt to feel better. However, procrastinating can have negative consequences, and they go beyond poor grades. In a Frontiers in Psychology study, researchers who reviewed multiple studies pointed out that procrastination is also a health issue, as it can cause mental and physical problems. 

As a parent, you want to encourage your child to do well in school. However, when teens experience too much pressure from parents to improve or maintain their academic performance, this can become a source of school stress. Teenagers may feel they’ll let their parents down by not achieving high grades, leading to higher levels of anxiety, insomnia, and changes in appetite. 

“Success is the status of having accomplished an aim or objective,” Little said. “However, getting straight A’s, kudos from the teacher, and scholarships for higher education are not appropriate indicators of success when your teenager does not believe they’re worthy of love, value, and respect. As parents, our objective is for our teenagers to know that they’re worthy of these things no matter their academic status.” 

Healthy relationships can motivate students to study efficiently so they have more time to spend with their friends — and are key to increasing the ability to tolerate stress. However, negative relationships can interfere with academic performance and be a source of unhealthy stress. 

For example, bullied teens may skip school to avoid confrontations with their tormentors. However, because bullies can post comments about their victims online, known as cyberbullying , students can experience stress at home too.  

With school shootings now an unfortunate reality, school violence and fear of shootings affect many teenagers. Teens who witness or hear about a shooting may experience anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress. Injured students may miss school and fall behind, while traumatized students may refuse to attend school completely. Even students who go to school can be negatively affected. 

“When teenagers don’t feel safe in a school environment, their brains go on high alert for signs of danger and abnormal activity,” Little said. “But when you’re on high alert, it’s much harder for you to pay attention to lectures, complete coursework, study, and be present. You experience high levels of unhealthy stress.” 

9 Stress Management Techniques for Your Student 

How can you help your teenager learn how to deal with school stress? Little emphasized that the most important step you can take is to create a safe, nonjudgmental space for your child to express their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and concerns.  

“Do not jump to problem-solving,” she said. “Most of the time, your teenager is seeking validation and needs a listening ear or shoulder to cry on. As you lean into supporting your teenager, ask the simple question, ‘Do you need me to listen and validate, or do you want me to help you think of solutions?’” 

By asking this question, you and your teenager can clarify your expectations and communicate better.  

If your teen wants your guidance, there are many ways you can work together to relieve school stress. 

To make homework less stressful, Little advised you lower school pressure at home and model the value of resting and recharging before starting any work assignments. People need breaks to eat, sleep, and take care of themselves, so by making these practices part of your regular routine, you and your teen are practicing healthy habits. 

You can further reduce homework stress by:  

  • Creating a homework schedule if one doesn’t already exist. 
  • Designating a quiet study space for homework. 
  • Encouraging your teen to make breaks a regular part of homework. 
  • Helping your child get started with their homework, if needed. 

You can help your teen manage school stress before they even go back to class. Consider the following simple back-to-school-tips for teens: 

  • Make sure your teenager knows where their classes are located before the first day of class. 
  • Help your teen fill out all required forms if needed, especially medical documents. 
  • Encourage your teenager to focus on the positive aspects of being back in school (e.g., making new friends, joining a club, or learning about a subject that interests them). 

Learning how to balance work and school can be challenging, but proper communication goes a long way in helping your teen enjoy the benefits of being a working student. Consider the following tips: 

  • Ask your teen how they feel about their overall workload. 
  • If your teen feels they’re working too much, encourage them to talk to their manager about reducing their hours. 

School, work, and social responsibilities place a big demand on your teenager’s time. To make sure these demands don’t become overwhelming, emphasize the importance of time management for students by: 

  • Helping your teen plan out their activities. 
  • Teaching them to break homework and studying for exams into manageable tasks. 
  • Showing them how to set realistic goals.

While you can do much to support and empower your teenager, it’s important to encourage their relationships not only with family members but other people as well. You can help your teen develop positive relationships and a strong support network by: 

  • Pointing them toward positive influences like guidance counselors, teachers, or mentors. 
  • Encouraging them to include supportive, loving family members in their network. 
  • Reminding them to contact their support network in times of stress. 

Peer pressure and difficult relationships can lead to unhealthy stress and challenges in school. To help your teen navigate such challenges: 

  • Teach them how to establish healthy boundaries in relationships. 
  • Show them how to be assertive in communication. 
  • Share your own experiences with peer pressure. 

“A lot of times, we may not realize we’re anxious or depressed, but our bodies know and start to change our appetite, give us headaches, and alter our sleep patterns,” Little said. “If medical conditions are ruled out, a lot of times it’s a mental health concern like anxiety or depression.” 

To model to your teen how they can become more self-aware of what their body may be trying to tell them so they can respond to these signs appropriately, consider the following suggestions: 

  • Practice deep breathing with your teen. 
  • Help your child get in the habit of journaling. 
  • Get your teen in the habit of taking small breaks. 
  • Encourage your teenager to spend time outside. 

Dealing with the reality of school violence and school shootings is a lot for a teen to handle. To help your teenager manage any fear or anxiety they experience in a school environment: 

  • Observe your teen’s emotional state for signs of anxiety or stress. 
  • Validate their feelings. 
  • Talk about the difference between the possibility of violence and the probability of it at their school. 
  • Review safety procedures so your teen knows what to do in case of an emergency.  

The following warning signs can indicate your teen needs counseling for stress: 

  •  Withdrawing from peers or family members.  
  • Starting to drink or use drugs. 
  • Struggling with symptoms of anxiety in multiple areas of their life, not just school. 
  • Getting into legal trouble. 
  • Seeming constantly angry or showing other sudden changes in mood and personality.

Little recommended you find a therapist who works with the issues your teenager is experiencing. She added that you, the parent, may also need support from a therapist to ensure your mental health lets you help your child.   

If school is stressful for your teen, you can provide them with a safe space where they can reflect on their experiences and come up with ways to manage and reduce their stress. Validate their feelings, and let them know you support them.  

Showing your teen you love, value, and respect them is important not only for addressing school stress, Little said, but also for their overall mental health. 

“We need that affirmation from our parents and the adults around us,” she said. “And when we don’t get that, we’re far more susceptible to experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression and other mental health concerns. Choose to say, ‘I hear you, and I love you, and I’m here with you.’” 

Embark is the most trusted name in teen and young adult mental health treatment. We’re driven to find the help your family needs. If you’re looking for support,  contact us today !  

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

ORIGINAL RESEARCH article

Work stress, mental health, and employee performance.

\nBiao Chen

  • 1 School of Business, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China
  • 2 Henan Research Platform Service Center, Zhengzhou, China

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak—as a typical emergency event—significantly has impacted employees' psychological status and thus has negatively affected their performance. Hence, along with focusing on the mechanisms and solutions to alleviate the impact of work stress on employee performance, we also examine the relationship between work stress, mental health, and employee performance. Furthermore, we analyzed the moderating role of servant leadership in the relationship between work stress and mental health, but the result was not significant. The results contribute to providing practical guidance for enterprises to improve employee performance in the context of major emergencies.

Introduction

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the key drivers of economic development as they contribute >50, 60, 70, 80, and 90% of tax revenue, GDP, technological innovation, labor employment, and the number of enterprises, respectively. However, owing to the disadvantages of small-scale and insufficient resources ( Cai et al., 2017 ; Flynn, 2017 ), these enterprises are more vulnerable to being influenced by emergency events. The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak—as a typical emergency event—has negatively affected survival and growth of SMEs ( Eggers, 2020 ). Some SMEs have faced a relatively higher risk of salary reduction, layoffs, or corporate bankruptcy ( Adam and Alarifi, 2021 ). Consequently, it has made employees in the SMEs face the following stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic: First, employees' income, promotion, and career development opportunities have declined ( Shimazu et al., 2020 ). Second, as most employees had to work from home, family conflicts have increased and family satisfaction has decreased ( Green et al., 2020 ; Xu et al., 2020 ). Finally, as work tasks and positions have changed, the new work environment has made employees less engaged and less fulfilled at work ( Olugbade and Karatepe, 2019 ; Chen and Fellenz, 2020 ).

For SMEs, employees are their core assets and are crucial to their survival and growth ( Shan et al., 2022 ). Employee work stress may precipitate burnout ( Choi et al., 2019 ; Barello et al., 2020 ), which manifests as fatigue and frustration ( Mansour and Tremblay, 2018 ), and is associated with various negative reactions, including job dissatisfaction, low organizational commitment, and a high propensity to resign ( Lu and Gursoy, 2016 ; Uchmanowicz et al., 2020 ). Ultimately, it negatively impacts employee performance ( Prasad and Vaidya, 2020 ). The problem of employee work stress has become an important topic for researchers and practitioners alike. In this regard, it is timely to explore the impact of work stress on SME problems of survival and growth during emergency events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although recent studies have demonstrated the relationship between work stress and employee performance, some insufficiencies persist, which must be resolved. Research on how work stress affects employee performance has remained fragmented and limited. First, the research into how work stress affects employee performance is still insufficient. Some researchers have explored the effects of work stress on employee performance during COVID-19 ( Saleem et al., 2021 ; Tu et al., 2021 ). However, they have not explained the intermediate path, which limits our understanding of effects of work stress. As work stress causes psychological pain to employees, in response, they exhibit lower performance levels ( Song et al., 2020 ; Yu et al., 2022 ). Thus, employees' mental health becomes an important path to explain the relationship mechanism between work stress and employee performance, which is revealed in this study using a stress–psychological state–performance framework. Second, resolving the mental health problems caused by work stress has become a key issue for SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the core of the enterprise ( Ahn et al., 2018 ), the behavior of leaders significantly influences employees. Especially for SMEs, intensive interactive communication transpires between the leader and employees ( Li et al., 2019 ; Tiedtke et al., 2020 ). Servant leadership, as a typical leader's behavior, is considered an important determinant of employee mental health ( Haslam et al., 2020 ). Hence, to improve employees' mental health, we introduce servant leadership as a moderating variable and explore its contingency effect on relieving work stress and mental health.

This study predominantly tries to answer the question of how work stress influences employee performance and explores the mediating impact of mental health and the moderating impact of servant leadership in this relationship. Mainly, this study contributes to the existing literature in the following three ways: First, this research analyzes the influence of work stress on employee performance in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic, which complements previous studies and theories related to work stress. Second, this study regards mental health as a psychological state and examines its mediating impact on the relationship between work stress and employee performance, which complements the research path on how work stress affects employee performance. Third, we explore the moderating impact of servant leadership, which has been ignored in previous research, thus extending the understanding of the relationship between the work stress and mental health of employees in SMEs.

To accomplish the aforementioned tasks, the remainder of this article is structured as follows: First, based on the literature review, we propose our hypotheses. Thereafter, we present our research method, including the processes of data collection, sample characteristics, measurement of variables, and sample validity. Subsequently, we provide the data analysis and report the results. Finally, we discuss the results and present the study limitations.

Theoretical background and hypotheses

Work stress and employee performance.

From a psychological perspective, work stress influences employees' psychological states, which, in turn, affects their effort levels at work ( Lu, 1997 ; Richardson and Rothstein, 2008 ; Lai et al., 2022 ). Employee performance is the result of the individual's efforts at work ( Robbins, 2005 ) and thus is significantly impacted by work stress. However, previous research has provided no consistent conclusion regarding the relationship between work stress and employee performance. One view is that a significant positive relationship exists between work stress and employee performance ( Ismail et al., 2015 ; Soomro et al., 2019 ), suggesting that stress is a motivational force that encourages employees to work hard and improve work efficiency. Another view is that work stress negatively impacts employee performance ( Yunus et al., 2018 ; Nawaz Kalyar et al., 2019 ; Purnomo et al., 2021 ), suggesting that employees need to spend time and energy to cope with stress, which increases their burden and decreases their work efficiency. A third view is that the impact of work stress on employee performance is non-linear and may exhibit an inverted U-shaped relationship ( McClenahan et al., 2007 ; Hamidi and Eivazi, 2010 ); reportedly, when work stress is relatively low or high, employee performance is low. Hence, if work stress reaches a moderate level, employee performance will peak. However, this conclusion is derived from theoretical analyses and is not supported by empirical data. Finally, another view suggests that no relationship exists between them ( Tănăsescu and Ramona-Diana, 2019 ). Indubitably, it presupposes that employees are rational beings ( Lebesby and Benders, 2020 ). Per this view, work stress cannot motivate employees or influence their psychology and thus cannot impact their performance.

To further explain the aforementioned diverse views, positive psychology proposes that work stress includes two main categories: challenge stress and hindrance stress ( Cavanaugh et al., 2000 ; LePine et al., 2005 ). Based on their views, challenge stress represents stress that positively affects employees' work attitudes and behaviors, which improves employee performance by increasing work responsibility; by contrast, hindrance stress negatively affects employees' work attitudes and behaviors, which reduces employee performance by increasing role ambiguity ( Hon and Chan, 2013 ; Deng et al., 2019 ).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs have faced a relatively higher risk of salary reductions, layoffs, or corporate bankruptcy ( Adam and Alarifi, 2021 ). Hence, the competition among enterprises has intensified; managers may transfer some stress to employees, who, in turn, need to bear this to maintain and seek current and future career prospects, respectively ( Lai et al., 2015 ). In this context, employee work stress stems from increased survival problems of SMEs, and such an external shock precipitates greater stress among employees than ever before ( Gao, 2021 ). Stress more frequently manifests as hindrance stress ( LePine et al., 2004 ), which negatively affects employees' wellbeing and quality of life ( Orfei et al., 2022 ). It imposes a burden on employees, who need to spend time and energy coping with the stress. From the perspective of stressors, SMEs have faced serious survival problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, and consequently, employees have faced greater hindrance stress, thereby decreasing their performance. Hence, we propose the following hypothesis:

H1 . Work stress negatively influences employee performance in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work stress and mental health

According to the demand–control–support (DCS) model ( Karasek and Theorell, 1990 ), high-stress work—such as high job demands, low job control, and low social support at work—may trigger health problems in employees over time (e.g., mental health problems; Chou et al., 2015 ; Park et al., 2016 ; Lu et al., 2020 ). The DCS model considers stress as an individual's response to perceiving high-intensity work ( Houtman et al., 2007 ), which precipitates a change in the employee's cognitive, physical, mental, and emotional status. Of these, mental health problems including irritability, nervousness, aggressive behavior, inattention, sleep, and memory disturbances are a typical response to work stress ( Mayerl et al., 2016 ; Neupane and Nygard, 2017 ). If the response persists for a considerable period, mental health problems such as anxiety or depression may occur ( Bhui et al., 2012 ; Eskilsson et al., 2017 ). As coping with work stress requires an employee to exert continuous effort and apply relevant skills, it may be closely related to certain psychological problems ( Poms et al., 2016 ; Harrison and Stephens, 2019 ).

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the normal operating order of enterprises as well as employees' work rhythm. Consequently, employees might have faced greater challenges during this period ( Piccarozzi et al., 2021 ). In this context, work stress includes stress related to health and safety risk, impaired performance, work adjustment, and negative emotions, for instance, such work stress can lead to unhealthy mental problems. Hence, we propose the following hypothesis:

H2 . Work stress negatively influences mental health in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mediating role of mental health

Previous research has found that employees' mental health status significantly affects their performance ( Bubonya et al., 2017 ; Cohen et al., 2019 ; Soeker et al., 2019 ), the main reasons of which are as follows: First, mental health problems reduce employees' focus on their work, which is potentially detrimental to their performance ( Hennekam et al., 2020 ). Second, mental health problems may render employees unable to work ( Heffernan and Pilkington, 2011 ), which indirectly reduces work efficiency owing to increased sick leaves ( Levinson et al., 2010 ). Finally, in the stress context, employees need to exert additional effort to adapt to the environment, which, consequently, make them feel emotionally exhausted. Hence, as their demands remain unfulfilled, their work satisfaction and performance decrease ( Khamisa et al., 2016 ).

Hence, we propose that work stress negatively impacts mental health, which, in turn, positively affects employee performance. In other words, we argue that mental health mediates the relationship between work stress and employee performance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, work stress—owing to changes in the external environment—might have caused nervous and anxious psychological states in employees ( Tan et al., 2020 ). Consequently, it might have rendered employees unable to devote their full attention to their work, and hence, their work performance might have decreased. Meanwhile, due to the pandemic, employees have faced the challenges of unclear job prospects and reduced income. Therefore, mental health problems manifest as moods characterized by depression and worry ( Karatepe et al., 2020 ). Negative emotions negatively impact employee performance. Per the aforementioned arguments and hypothesis 2, we propose the following hypothesis:

H3 . Mental health mediates the relationship between work stress and employee performance in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moderating role of servant leadership

According to the upper echelons theory, leaders significantly influence organizational activities, and their leadership behavior influences the thinking and understanding of tasks among employees in enterprises ( Hambrick and Mason, 1984 ). Servant leadership is a typical leadership behavior that refers to leaders exhibiting humility, lending power to employees, raising the moral level of subordinates, and placing the interests of employees above their own ( Sendjaya, 2015 ; Eva et al., 2019 ). This leadership behavior provides emotional support to employees and increase their personal confidence and self-esteem and thus reduce negative effects of work stress. In our study, we propose that servant leadership reduces the negative effects of work stress on mental health in SMEs.

Servant leadership can reduce negative effects of work stress on mental health in the following ways: Servant leaders exhibit empathy and compassion ( Lu et al., 2019 ), which help alleviate employees' emotional pain caused by work stress. Song et al. (2020) highlighted that work stress can cause psychological pain among employees. However, servant leaders are willing to listen to their employees and become acquainted with them, which facilitates communication between the leader and the employee ( Spears, 2010 ). Hence, servant leadership may reduce employees' psychological pain through effective communication. Finally, servant leaders lend employees power, which makes the employees feel trusted. Employees—owing to their trust in the leaders—trust the enterprises as well, which reduces the insecurity caused by work stress ( Phong et al., 2018 ). In conclusion, servant leadership serves as a coping resource that reduces the impact of losing social support and thus curbs negative employee emotions ( Ahmed et al., 2021 ). Based on the aforementioned analysis, we find that servant leaders can reduce the mental health problems caused by work stress. Hence, we propose the following hypothesis:

H4 . Servant leadership reduces the negative relationship between work stress and mental health in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methodology

Data collection and samples.

To assess our theoretical hypotheses, we collected data by administering a questionnaire survey. The questionnaire was administered anonymously, and the respondents were informed regarding the purpose of the study. Owing to the impact of the pandemic, we distributed and collected the questionnaires by email. Specifically, we utilized the network relationships of our research group with the corporate campus and group members to distribute the questionnaires. In addition, to ensure the quality of the questionnaires, typically senior employees who had worked for at least 2 years at their enterprises were chosen as the respondents.

Before the formal survey, we conducted a pilot test. Thereafter, we revised the questionnaire based on the results of the trial investigation. Subsequently, we randomly administered the questionnaires to the target enterprises. Hence, 450 questionnaires were administered via email, and 196 valid questionnaires were returned—an effective rate of 43.6%. Table 1 presents the profiles of the samples.

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Table 1 . Profiles of the samples.

Table 1 shows the descriptive statistics of the sample. Based on the firm size, respondents who worked in a company with 1–20 employees accounted for 9.2%, those in a company with 21–50 employees accounted for 40.8%, those in a company with 51–200 employees accounted for 38.8%, and those in a company with 201–500 employees accounted for 11.2%. Regarding industry, the majority of the respondents (63.8%) worked for non-high-technology industry and 36.2% of the respondents worked for high-technology industry. Regarding work age, the participants with a work experience of 3 years or less accounted for 32.1%, those with work experience of 3–10 years accounted for 32.7%, and those with a work experience of more than 10 years accounted for 35.2%.

Core variables in this study include English-version measures that have been well tested in prior studies; some modifications were implemented during the translation process. As the objective of our study is SMEs in China, we translated the English version to Chinese; this translation was carried out by two professionals to ensure accuracy. Thereafter, we administered the questionnaires to the respondents. Hence, as the measures of our variables were revised based on the trial investigation, we asked two professionals to translate the Chinese version of the responses to English to enable publishing this work in English. We evaluated all the items pertaining to the main variables using a seven-point Likert scale (7 = very high/strongly agree, 1 = very low/strongly disagree). The variable measures are presented subsequently.

Work stress (WS)

Following the studies of Parker and DeCotiis (1983) and Shah et al. (2021) , we used 12 items to measure work stress, such as “I get irritated or nervous because of work” and “Work takes a lot of my energy, but the reward is less than the effort.”

Mental health (MH)

The GHQ-12 is a widely used tool developed to assess the mental health status ( Liu et al., 2022 ). However, we revised the questionnaire by combining the research needs and results of the pilot test. We used seven items to measure mental health, such as “I feel that I am unable (or completely unable) to overcome difficulties in my work or life.” In the final calculation, the scoring questions for mental health were converted; higher scores indicated higher levels of mental health.

Servant leadership (SL)

Following the studies by Ehrhart (2004) and Sendjaya et al. (2019) , we used nine items to measure servant leadership, including “My leader makes time to build good relationships with employees” and “My leader is willing to listen to subordinates during decision-making.”

Employee performance (EP)

We draw on the measurement method provided by Chen et al. (2002) and Khorakian and Sharifirad (2019) ; we used four items to represent employee performance. An example item is as follows: “I can make a contribution to the overall performance of our enterprise.”

Control variables

We controlled several variables that may influence employee performance, including firm size, industry, and work age. Firm size was measured by the number of employees. For industry, we coded them into two dummy variables (high-technology industry = 1, non-high-technology industry = 0). We calculated work experience by the number of years the employee has worked for the enterprise.

Common method bias

Common method bias may exist because each questionnaire was completed independently by each respondent ( Cai et al., 2017 ). We conducted a Harman one-factor test to examine whether common method bias significantly affected our data ( Podsakoff and Organ, 1986 ); the results revealed that the largest factor in our data accounted for only 36.219% of the entire variance. Hence, common method bias did not significantly affect on our study findings.

Reliability and validity

We analyzed the reliability and validity of our data for further data processing, the results of which are presented in Table 2 . Based on these results, we found that Cronbach's alpha coefficient of each variable was >0.8, thus meeting the requirements for reliability of the variables. To assess the validity of each construct, we conducted four separate confirmatory factor analyses. All the factor loadings exceeded 0.5. Overall, the reliability and validity results met the requirements for further data processing.

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Table 2 . Results of confirmatory factor analysis and Cronbach's alpha coefficients.

To verify our hypotheses, we used a hierarchical linear regression method. Before conducting the regression analysis, we performed a Pearson correlation analysis, the results of which are presented in Table 3 .

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Table 3 . Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.

In the regression analysis, we calculated the variance inflation factor (VIF) of each variable and found that the VIF value of each variable was <3. Hence, the effect of multiple co-linearity is not significant. The results of regression analysis are presented in Tables 4 , 5 .

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Table 4 . Results of linear regression analysis (models 1–6).

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Table 5 . Results of linear regression analysis (models 7–9).

Table 4 shows that model 1 is the basic model assessing the effects of control variables on employee performance. In model 2, we added an independent variable (work stress) to examine its effect on employee performance. The results revealed that work stress negatively affects employee performance (β = −0.193, p < 0.01). Therefore, hypothesis 1 is supported. Model 5 is the basic model that examines the effects of control variables on mental health. In model 6, we added an independent variable (work stress) to assess its effect on mental health. We found that work stress negatively affects mental health (β = −0.517, p < 0.001). Therefore, hypothesis 2 is supported.

To verify the mediating effect of mental health on the relationship between work stress and employee performance, we used the method introduced by Kenny et al. (1998) , which is described as follows: (1) The independent variable is significantly related to the dependent variable. (2) The independent variable is significantly related to the mediating variable. (3) The mediating variable is significantly related to the dependent variable after controlling for the independent variable. (4) If the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable becomes smaller, it indicates a partial mediating effect. (5) If the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable is no longer significant, it indicates a full mediating effect. Based on this method, in model 4, mental health is significantly positively related to employee performance (β = 0.343, p < 0.001), and no significant correlation exists between work stress and employee performance (β = −0.016, p > 0.05). Hence, mental health fully mediates the relationship between work stress and employee performance. Therefore, hypothesis 3 is supported.

To verify the moderating effect of servant leadership on the relationship between work stress and mental health, we gradually added independent variables, a moderator variable, and interaction between the independent variables and moderator variable to the analysis, the results of which are presented in Table 5 . In model 9, the moderating effect of servant leadership is not supported (β = 0.030, p > 0.05). Therefore, hypothesis 4 is not supported.

For SMEs, employees are core assets and crucial to their survival and growth ( Shan et al., 2022 ). Specifically, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees' work stress may precipitate burnout ( Choi et al., 2019 ; Barello et al., 2020 ), which influences their performance. Researchers and practitioners have significantly focused on resolving the challenge of work stress ( Karatepe et al., 2020 ; Tan et al., 2020 ; Gao, 2021 ). However, previous research has not clearly elucidated the relationship among work stress, mental health, servant leadership, and employee performance. Through this study, we found the following results:

Employees in SMEs face work stress owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduces their performance. Facing these external shocks, survival and growth of SMEs may become increasingly uncertain ( Adam and Alarifi, 2021 ). Employees' career prospects are negatively impacted. Meanwhile, the pandemic has precipitated a change in the way employees work, their workspace, and work timings. Moreover, their work is now intertwined with family life. Hence, employees experience greater stress at work than ever before ( Gao, 2021 ), which, in turn, affects their productivity and deteriorates their performance.

Furthermore, we found that mental health plays a mediating role in the relationship between work stress and employee performance; this suggests that employees' mental status is influenced by work stress, which, in turn, lowers job performance. Per our findings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees experience nervous and anxious psychological states ( Tan et al., 2020 ), which renders them unable to devote their full attention to their work; hence, their work performance is likely to decrease.

Finally, we found that leaders are the core of any enterprise ( Ahn et al., 2018 ). Hence, their leadership behavior significantly influences employees. Per previous research, servant leadership is considered a typical leadership behavior characterized by exhibiting humility, delegating power to employees, raising the morale of subordinates, and placing the interests of employees above their own ( Sendjaya, 2015 ; Eva et al., 2019 ). Through theoretical analysis, we found that servant leadership mitigates the negative effect of work stress on mental health. However, the empirical results are not significant possibly because work stress of employees in SMEs is rooted in worries regarding the future of the macroeconomic environment, and the resulting mental health problems cannot be cured merely by a leader.

Hence, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees experience work stress, which precipitates mental health problems and poor employee performance. To solve the problem of work stress, SMEs should pay more attention to fostering servant leadership. Meanwhile, organizational culture is also important in alleviating employees' mental health problems and thus reducing negative effects of work stress on employee performance.

Implications

This study findings have several theoretical and managerial implications.

Theoretical implications

First, per previous research, no consistent conclusion exists regarding the relationship between work stress and employee performance, including positive relationships ( Ismail et al., 2015 ; Soomro et al., 2019 ), negative relationships ( Yunus et al., 2018 ; Nawaz Kalyar et al., 2019 ; Purnomo et al., 2021 ), inverted U-shaped relationships ( McClenahan et al., 2007 ; Hamidi and Eivazi, 2010 ), and no relationship ( Tănăsescu and Ramona-Diana, 2019 ). We report that work stress negatively affects employee performance in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, this study contributes to the understanding of the situational nature of work stress and provides enriching insights pertaining to positive psychology.

Second, we established the research path that work stress affects employee performance. Mental health is a psychological state that may influence an individual's work efficiency. In this study, we explored its mediating role, which opens the black box of the relationship between work stress and employee performance; thus, this study contributes to a greater understanding of the role of work stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, this study sheds light on the moderating effect of servant leadership, which is useful for understanding why some SMEs exhibit greater difficulty in achieving success than others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous research has explained the negative effect of work stress ( Yunus et al., 2018 ; Nawaz Kalyar et al., 2019 ; Purnomo et al., 2021 ). However, few studies have focused on how to resolve the problem. We identify servant leadership as the moderating factor providing theoretical support for solving the problem of work stress. This study expands the explanatory scope of the upper echelons theory.

Practice implications

First, this study elucidates the sources and mechanisms of work stress in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees should continuously acquire new skills to improve themselves and thus reduce their replaceability. Meanwhile, they should enhance their time management and emotional regulation skills to prevent the emergence of adverse psychological problems.

Second, leaders in SMEs should pay more attention to employees' mental health to prevent the emergence of hindrance stress. Employees are primarily exposed to stress from health and safety risks, impaired performance, and negative emotions. Hence, leaders should communicate with employees in a timely manner to understand their true needs, which can help avoid mental health problems due to work stress among employees.

Third, policymakers should realize that a key cause of employee work stress in SMEs is attributable to concerns regarding the macroeconomic environment. Hence, they should formulate reasonable support policies to improve the confidence of the whole society in SMEs, which helps mitigate SME employees' work stress during emergency events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, as work stress causes mental health problems, SME owners should focus on their employees' physical as well as mental health. Society should establish a psychological construction platform for SME employees to help them address their psychological problems.

Limitations and future research

This study has limitations, which should be addressed by further research. First, differences exist in the impact of the pandemic on different industries. Future research should focus on the impact of work stress on employee performance in different industries. Second, this study only explored the moderating role of servant leadership. Other leadership behaviors of leaders may also affect work stress. Future research can use case study methods to explore the role of other leadership behaviors.

This study explored the relationship between work stress and employee performance in SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a sample of 196 SMEs from China, we found that as a typical result of emergency events, work stress negatively affects employees' performance, particularly by affecting employees' mental health. Furthermore, we found that servant leadership provides a friendly internal environment to mitigate negative effects of work stress on employees working in SMEs.

Data availability statement

The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/supplementary material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author/s.

Ethics statement

Ethical review and approval was not required for the study on human participants in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. Written informed consent from the patients/participants or patients/participants legal guardian/next of kin was not required to participate in this study in accordance with the national legislation and the institutional requirements.

Author contributions

BC: conceptualization, methodology, writing—original draft, and visualization. LW: formal analysis. BL: investigation, funding acquisition, and writing—review and editing. WL: resources, project administration, and supervision. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

This research was supported by the major project of Henan Province Key R&D and Promotion Special Project (Soft Science) Current Situation, Realization Path and Guarantee Measures for Digital Transformation Development of SMEs in Henan Province under the New Development Pattern (Grant No. 222400410159).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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Keywords: COVID-19, work stress, mental health, employee performance, social uncertainty

Citation: Chen B, Wang L, Li B and Liu W (2022) Work stress, mental health, and employee performance. Front. Psychol. 13:1006580. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1006580

Received: 29 July 2022; Accepted: 10 October 2022; Published: 08 November 2022.

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Copyright © 2022 Chen, Wang, Li and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Biao Li, lib0023@zzu.edu.cn

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

The #1 Thing My Students Want Their Parents to Know: They’re Stressed

A classroom full of stressed students tries to concentrate.

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In preparation for an upcoming meeting of my school’s parent/teacher/student organization, I recently asked three of my most talented teachers to help me answer an important question: What do high schoolers wish their parents knew? After roughly 130 students weighed in, I was surprised to learn that the number one issue students wanted their parents to know was that they were highly stressed.

During the parent meeting, we discussed the various reasons why students discussed stress as a main concern in their lives. Answers varied: taking multiple Advanced Placement or advanced classes; participating in clubs, sports, and music programs; dealing with cyberbullying; and mentally preparing for the college-application experience.

After the meeting, I was left with this pit in my stomach about the emotional state of my students. How could I be part of the solution instead of being a bystander? I came to the realization that handling stress isn’t something that will come naturally to students, like blinking or breathing. Someone has to teach it to them. As great educators, we have to prepare our students for how to learn, not just what to learn.

About This Series

In this biweekly column , principals and other authorities on school leadership—including researchers, education professors, district administrators, and assistant principals—offer timely and timeless advice for their peers.

When I think about teaching conceptually, I immediately remember one of my favorite poems. In “ Teach Him Gently, If You Can ,” Dan Valentine lists several concepts that the world will teach his son but requests that teachers also teach the son the more positive aspects of life.

During the course of my 27 years in education, I’ve personally found four strategies that can be taught “gently” to students to help them cope with stress. I believe that implementing even one of these basic strategies can make a world of difference in relieving the stress our students experience.

Several years ago, I participated in a shadow-a-student activity, where I followed a student through school for the day. One of the main takeaways was that students do not get enough movement during the day. Why does this matter? Consider how you feel after you drive in a vehicle for six hours. You may feel exhausted and depleted of energy, and that’s without having to exert any mental or emotional energy.

Now, combine those feelings with expectations for classroom performance. It is a recipe for burnout and underachievement, which is why we need to instill more movement in our classrooms.

It can be as basic as changing an oral multiple-choice question to asking students to move to a corner that corresponds with the letter choice they think is correct (i.e., if you think A is correct, move to this corner, if you think B is correct, move to that corner, etc.).

There are several other (more elaborate) ways to incorporate movement, so principals should encourage teachers to be the experts they are and try something new with movement.

Academic conversations

During a recent training about enhancing the services we provide to students who speak English as a second language, this strategy clicked for me. I used to prioritize access, thinking that getting English learners in the class with English-speaking students was the primary goal. However, at this training, I was reminded of the other part of the formula: getting students to have academic conversations about what they were learning. Being in the class and silent was not helping them learn English as much as it would if they were having conversations about what they were learning.

This is true for all students, including those with language deficits, disabilities, or other conditions that leave them reticent about volunteering in class. In terms of stress management, how are students supposed to process emotions and decompress if they sit in class silently for 60 or 90 minutes at a time? It is important for them to communicate with their peers and teachers as a form of stress relief, making interpersonal connections, and engaging with the content being taught. These skills help build a confident learner, satisfying the needs of the whole child.

Trusted adults

My school’s leadership team works hard to make sure every student has a trusted adult at school, someone who they can go to when they have a challenging situation to handle. It is no surprise that students, especially at the high school level, often turn to others outside their home when they are dealing with complicated feelings. We must be available and sensitive to our students’ needs.

Relationships take time, so I encourage each of you to be the type of teacher and administrator that you would want for your child. For some, this skill of building relationships comes naturally. For other educators, you will have to work at it, but our students are worth it.

The art of the redo

A teacher I know allows students to redo all major assignments, regardless of the first grade earned. She shared that this practice makes them more relaxed and confident. Does it create more work for this teacher? Not necessarily.

Some new assessment programs can tell the students which answer is wrong but not tell them the correct answer. Teachers can then allow them to go back and try it again, if needed. Many students just enjoy and appreciate the option to get back up and try again and learn from mistakes if needed. After all, the goal is learning, not seeing how tough we can make it.

When students know they have a second chance to show what they’ve learned, it decreases their anxiety significantly. The focus needs to be on the fact that they learned the content, not how many times it took them to learn the material.

Students are dealing with unimaginable stressors, both in quantity and severity. Many need help with learning how to effectively manage them. Educators and parents should partner to help students identify effective and positive ways to deal with their stress. If we don’t step in, someone else may. And that individual might not have the child’s best interest at heart. Let’s be the first to teach our young people but remember to do so gently.

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A Columbia psychology professor says Gen Z should accept that stress and anxiety at work are normal life experiences: 'We should all feel stressed sometimes'

  • Gen Z workers are losing sight that feeling stressed or sad are "normal life experiences." 
  • Kathleen Pike, a professor at Columbia, said these feelings aren't necessarily signs of mental illness. 
  • Feeling stressed out or anxious can actually help you focus or identify problems you can solve. 

Insider Today

Gen Z appear to be struggling more with stress and anxiety at work than previous generations, but a prominent psychologist says they’re forgetting that some of these emotions are part of "normal life experiences."

Kathleen Pike, a Columbia University psychology professor and president and CEO of One Mind at Work, told Business Insider that as discussions of mental health at work grow, young people are struggling to distinguish between normal emotions and mental illness. 

Gen Z being open about mental health issues is a "watershed moment" in the workplace and sparking meaningful change in the long term, according to Pike. 

"At the same time, in the effort to talk about mental health and share around mental illness, there can also become an expanded discourse of experience that at times loses track of normal fluctuation of human experience and mental illness," she said. 

Feeling stressed out when you have a deadline or feeling sad, disappointed or anxious are "normal life experiences."

"We should all feel stressed sometimes," she said, explaining that it helps people to cognitively focus and complete tasks. Meanwhile, anxiety is a "useful cue" that can help you identify something wrong in your surroundings. But these feelings are not always indicators of serious mental illness. 

"Some of that distinction can get lost," Pike says. "And so I think social change usually happens in a way where we overcorrect or the pendulum swings way out, and then it comes back and settles in a place that is in a more integrated space. And I think that's what we're witnessing." 

A 2023 Deloitte survey of 14,483 Gen Zers from 44 countries found that 46% felt anxious and stressed out at work all or most of the time. Over a third said they were exhausted, lacked energy, and felt mentally distant from their job due to negativity or cynicism. 

As a result, some Gen Zers are seeking out alternatives to the 9-to-5 like "lazy girl jobs" — roles that are low-stress but offer good pay. 

Suzy Welch , an NYU business professor, previously said the trend is fuelled by Gen Z's "strong desire to avoid anxiety at any cost" because they haven’t made hard decisions or done hard things. 

Pike believes the discussions around mental health and mental illness must continue and that Gen Z will eventually learn to cope with difficult feelings. 

"There may be times where a Gen Z young professional may have a threshold around stress or anxiety or mood that actually over time an expanded comfort with a wider range of emotional experience will actually be a maturing experience for them," she said. 

"Success grows out of learning how to get back on the horse, learning how to build the skills, how to ask for help, and how to build capacity in ways that didn't exist. That's part of maturing in the workplace."

stress from school and work

Watch: How Gen Z will change the workplace, according to LinkedIn's CMO

stress from school and work

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  1. Balancing Work and School

    One study showed that 70% of college students are stressed about finances. [1] With work, school, activities, and friends all demanding attention, many students struggle with balancing and prioritizing the different areas of their lives. We know that high levels of stress hurt our mental health.

  2. How to Handle the Stress of School and Work

    Adding in the stress of life itself, juggling kids on top of work and school can seem impossible. It's important for students to find a way to cope so they can be successful in the real world and in the classroom. According to a U.S. Census report, over 70 percent of college students work and go to school.

  3. How to Manage Stress During the School Year

    Coping strategies for students Students will face all types of stressors throughout the school year. Being equipped with tools to help manage the effects is critical to success. Here are some...

  4. How to Deal with School Stress and Work at the Same Time

    Avoid Time Wasting Setting boundaries is important in all aspects of life. Therefore, try to keep work and school in close proximity to cut down on your transportation time and costs. Be disciplined with your time management. Avoid spending excessive time on social media.

  5. Top 10 Stress Management Techniques for Students

    Top 10 Stress Management Techniques for Students Menu Conditions A-Z Addiction Depression ADHD Anxiety Bipolar Disorder PTSD View All Therapy Therapy Center When To See a Therapist Types of Therapy Best Online Therapy Best Couples Therapy Best Family Therapy View All Living Well Managing Stress Meditation Sleep and Dreaming Understanding Emotions

  6. How to handle stress at work

    Chronic stress can also affect health by interfering with healthy behaviors, such as exercise, balanced eating, and sleep. Work stress can also harm companies or organizations. Burnout reduces job productivity and boosts absenteeism and job turnover, and also leads to conflict between coworkers, causing stress to spread within a workplace.

  7. How to Recover from Work Stress, According to Science

    July 05, 2022. LightFieldStudios/Getty Images. Summary. To combat stress and burnout, employers are increasingly offering benefits like virtual mental health support, spontaneous days or even ...

  8. How to Reduce School-Related Stress: 12 Proven Ways

    Trigger your body's calming response with 3 slow, deep, breaths. When you're entering a stressful situation or feel the wave of stress hitting you, try this: take a deep breath in through your nose, hold the air deep in your belly for a moment, then slowly breathe out from your diaphragm and through your mouth.

  9. How to Reduce Student Stress and Excel in School

    Create a Good Study Environment. Creating a soothing environment can reduce stress and help you learn. Aromatherapy, for example, is a known stress reliever, and peppermint essential oil is said to wake up your brain. Playing classical music as you study can also soothe you and help you learn (unless you find it distracting).

  10. Dealing With Stress at School in an Age of Anxiety

    Asperger's Building a culture of resilience at school counters a growing stress epidemic. Posted August 15, 2017Reviewed by Jessica Schrader Find a therapist to overcome stress age of...

  11. Students Experiencing Stress

    Stress is the body's emotional, physical, or behavioral response to environmental change. Stress can be a short-term reaction in response to an upcoming event, such as homework deadlines, an upcoming exam, or speaking in front of the class.

  12. Managing Stress in High School

    Nov 10, 2022 7 minute read Exams. Choosing a college. Figuring out what to do with your life. No doubt, high school can be a high-pressure time in life. And high school students, as a result, get stressed out.

  13. 14 Tips to Manage Work Stress and Avoid Burnout

    Taking time to recharge. Taking even a few minutes of personal time during a busy day can help prevent burnout caused by chronic work stress. Listening to an interesting podcast between meetings ...

  14. Why Is School So Stressful? Dealing With School Anxiety

    August 3, 2023 When School Is Stressful: 5 Tips for Helping Your Child's School Anxiety If your child is nervous or apprehensive about school, communication is key Sure, school is where we send our kids to learn their ABCs, 123s and (hopefully) the difference between "there," "their" and "they're." Advertisement

  15. School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

    "It can motivate students to be organized. But too much stress can backfire." Almost 40 percent of parents say their high-schooler is experiencing a lot of stress from school, according to a...

  16. What Causes School Stress and Anxiety?

    According to a study by NYU, 49% of students experience stress caused by school on a daily basis. Below are some of the most common stressors in school: Navigating social lives Adjusting to routine changes and transitions Pressure to be successful Finding or identifying support systems Time management What Is the Most Stressful Year of School?

  17. 12 Best Tips to Balance School and Work

    Responsibilities like school and work are hard to prioritize when fun alternatives exist, but once you manage your time, you will be able to alleviate stress and be more successful. Some useful tools for time management include: Update Your Schedule: You don't have to have a type A personality to learn how to schedule your time.

  18. School Stress Management for Students of All Ages

    Oregon YouthLine is a teen-to-teen hotline that can be beneficial to those facing school stress and related pressures. To get help, teens just need to call 877.968.8491, text "teen2teen" to 839863, email [email protected] or chat online at the organization's website.

  19. Coping with stress at work

    A stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper, and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity, and heart disease.

  20. Managing school stress: Why creating a "school-life" balance matters

    Preventing the negative impacts of stress requires ongoing efforts. Outside of a school context, stress management efforts among adults are part of the pursuit of work-life balance, a growing topic of conversation and research as workplaces increasingly try to support employees in managing their commitments across work, family, life and leisure.

  21. Balancing the demands of school and work: stress and employed

    Stress can be viewed as a positive or negative experience in the lives and performance of today's college students. This study examined exposure to stressors among student‐employees (i.e. those enrolled in hospitality programs while concurrently employed in the hospitality industry).

  22. School Stress: How Student Life Affects Your Teen

    Help your teen balance work and school. 4. Teach your teen time management skills. 5. Encourage your teen to build and reach out to a support network of family, friends, and fellow students. 6. Teach your teen how to handle peer pressure and difficult relationships. 7. Practice healthy habits with your teen.

  23. Coping with School Stress

    1. Watch for signs of school-related stress. With teens, parents should watch for stress-related behaviors, like purposely cutting themselves, or expressions of despair or hopelessness,...

  24. Work stress, mental health, and employee performance

    A third view is that the impact of work stress on employee performance is non-linear and may exhibit an inverted U-shaped relationship (McClenahan et al., 2007; Hamidi and Eivazi, 2010); reportedly, when work stress is relatively low or high, employee performance is low. Hence, if work stress reaches a moderate level, employee performance will ...

  25. Teacher Stress and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Abstract. This study examines stress, mental health, and well-being in K-12 teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic Fall 2020 school restart and assesses differences in mental health and well-being by mode of instruction: online, in-person, or a hybrid.

  26. The #1 Thing My Students Want Their Parents to Know: They're Stressed

    Students are dealing with unimaginable stressors, both in quantity and severity. Many need help with learning how to effectively manage them. Educators and parents should partner to help students ...

  27. Stress-Reducing Strategies for School Breaks and Beyond

    The point isn't to gloss over the stress, but to acknowledge that you are doing your best. It's good to simply remember that we learn to parent by doing it. Teachers become more effective through hands-on practice. When issues arise, solutions can be found.

  28. Gen Z Stress and Anxiety Are 'Normal Life Experiences,' Columbia

    A 2023 Deloitte survey of 14,483 Gen Zers from 44 countries found that 46% felt anxious and stressed out at work all or most of the time. Over a third said they were exhausted, lacked energy, and ...