by Miranda Owen

We’ve all had days where we’re so stressed we just want to pull our hair out. When teachers assign homework in every class, you feel like you’re drowning in books.

Sometimes students get too overwhelmed with homework and want to call it quits. No matter what grade you’re in, chances are you’ve dealt with anxiety before.

There’s a fine line between appropriate stress and when it causes negative behavior. Sometimes, it gets too difficult to figure out which one it is.

“Stress itself is not a bad thing,” says child psychologist Brenda Bryant, a professor of human development at UC Davis.

“You are not really truly alive without stress,” she told WebMD. “Being challenged makes you learn new things and keeps your brain functioning. In all the major theories of learning, there is stress. But if stress is really interfering with development, that is a problem.”

“Increased stress increases productivity up to a point, after which things rapidly deteriorate,” Dr. Paul J. Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress, said in an article by Adam Sollis reported on the Salt Lake Community College’s Web site, slccglobelink.com.

The article further states that “using stress constructively depends on understanding where that line is between stress as a performance enhancer and stress as a stumbling block.”

Stress is nothing but what you make of it. It is a mental or physical reaction to the people, places and things that originate out of your own surroundings. Most of the stress that students experience can be viewed as serving positive ends. Stress is not always the same as distress.

Stress can be experienced in positive events as much as the negative. But when it becomes negative, this is when it needs to be observed. One of the easiest ways to manage stress is to understand it.

According to slccglobelink.com, some common signs that stress is starting to have a negative impact include: More frequent headaches than normal, greater level of disorganization, change in sleeping and eating patterns, shorter temper, general unhappiness, difficulty completing tasks and a greater sense of persistent time pressure.

There is an abundant amount of ways to help manage your rising stress levels. To get started, choose one of these strategies, try it for two to four weeks and see if it helps. If it does, consider adding another one. If not, try a different one.

The strategies are:

Planning your day can help you accomplish more and feel more in control of your life. Write a to-do list, putting the most important tasks at the top. Keep a schedule of your daily activities to minimize conflicts and last-minute rushes.

Another great way is to prioritize your time. Time-consuming but relatively unimportant tasks can consume a lot of your day. Prioritizing tasks will ensure that you spend your time and energy on those that are truly important to you.

Say no to nonessential tasks. Consider your goals and schedule before agreeing to take on additional work.

Limit distractions. Block out time on your calendar for big projects. During that time, close your door and turn off your phone, Facebook, Myspace, and e-mail.

Delegate. Take a look at your to-do list and consider what you can pass on to someone else. Take the time you need to do a quality job. Doing work right the first time may take more time upfront, but errors usually result in time spent making corrections, which takes more time overall. Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. Work on them a few minutes at a time until you get them all done.

Practice the 10-minute rule. Work on a dreaded task for 10 minutes each day. Once you get started, you may find you can finish it.

Evaluate how you’re spending your time. Keep a diary of everything you do for three days to determine how you’re spending your time. Look for time that can be used more wisely. For example, how often do you go on Facebook or MySpace? If you cut back on them, you could free up some time to exercise or spend with family or friends.

You may want to try speaking to your school counselor if your stress persists and you can’t figure out a way to handle it. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to your counselor, try some other type of counseling.

Counseling is meant to help people work through their problems, so they can return to feeling happy and productive. If you believe you are in need of counseling, speak with your parents or other trusted adults.

Some schools have peer counseling programs. They are there to help you, in full confidentiality. If you feel this could help, peer counselors are in the Counseling Office ready to assist you through any issues you are experiencing.