The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Beating the finals stress

Exploring how students and staff reduce stress through the end of semester craze

According to numerous MVHS students, Winter can be a busy time, with finals, college applications and holiday celebrations cropping up. To combat stress, several teachers implement self-care and wellness in their classrooms, from breathing exercises to journaling to yoga. Chemistry teacher Elizabeth McCracken notes that self-care is incredibly important for all students at MVHS.

“There’s this belief that every minute that you put towards finals will, in terms of content, benefit you on your final,” McCracken said. “I don’t think that’s true. I think that taking care of yourself, that self-care, whatever that means, is just as important.”

Throughout the month of November, McCracken had her students write in gratitude journals every day during class and is planning on creating a gratitude playlist based on her students’ favorite uplifting songs. Similar to McCracken’s methods, senior Madelyn Wu uses bullet journaling as a way of releasing stress. She uses weekly and daily spreads to organize and manage her tasks, as well as creating mood trackers for each month to better understand her own emotions. 

Sometimes it’s really helpful for me to have this visual representation of my emotions instead of just having it all in my head,” Wu said.

Wu found bullet journaling especially effective during stressful junior year finals, after finding inspiration from online creators and using it as a creative outlet and source of joy. She finds that looking back on the spreads she creates can help motivate her to continue working and express herself.

“It’s a way for me to bring up happy memories associated with the months or what aspirations I have for that commitment,” Wu said. “I can draw it out or just put it on the paper and a cover page as inspiration and motivation.”

Like Wu’s sense of overwhelming stress from junior year, sophomore Anelia Gabriel describes  her first finals season when she was a freshman as a complete mess. As finals approach, she believes she will be coming in more prepared. 

“Dealing with the stress of finals is a challenge, but, to be less stressed, I only allow myself to study one subject for an hour and then give myself a mental break,” Gabriel said. “I also feel comfortable when talking to friends because they calm me down.” 

Adding to the idea of “feeling comfortable,” Wu also finds comfort when sharing her bullet journaling with the members of the Bullet Journaling Club. She often guides members through creating their own bullet journals, teaching them styles and spreads that best fit their personal needs.

“We share our own experiences with bullet journaling, and ways to de-stress and also capture memories,” Wu said. 

Similarly, McCracken acknowledges the importance of sharing wellness habits. She recalls several former students and TAs of hers who have continued the wellness practices that she taught them, even after graduating. Being a student of McCracken’s, Gabriel believes that teachers are becoming more aware of students’ health. 

“This year, a lot of the teachers have been focused on the well-being of their students,” Gabriel said. “It’s really good they’re acknowledging this and giving us methods that could simmer the stress down.” 

Although she did not initially practice wellness exercises when she started teaching, McCracken notes her students are often capable of teaching themselves content that is thrown at them on their own, so she uses her class time and role as a teacher to teach them wellness exercises, as well as making her activities and labs enjoyable.

“I think at some point, I realized that I was in the classroom not to teach science, but to use science to teach or to share with my students about how to help them to take care of themselves,” McCracken said. 

About the Contributors
Ananda Singh, Staff Writer
Ananda Singh is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. She enjoys traveling, listening to music, and eating Chick-Fil-A.
April Wang, Graphics Editor
April is a senior and Graphics Editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she likes to draw and read, and has a list of recommended books that is getting longer by the day no matter how fast she reads. April is applying to art colleges and is also mildly obsessed with K-Pop(she promises that it is a perfectly healthy obsession).
More to Discover