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How Students Respond to Stressful Situations

Updated: Mar 8


In today's world, stress, depression, jealousy and suicide is increasingly rampant among high school students. A study, published recently in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, focused on students in high schools. The researchers surveyed and interviewed 128 students, teachers, and administrators about students’ stress levels and coping strategies. They found that 49 percent of students reported feeling “a great deal of stress” on a daily basis. 26 percent noted that they had been diagnosed with depression—over four times the national average.

While that may seem like just the tip of the iceberg, depression is far more common in teens than you may think. The increased academic pressures, social challenges, and hormonal changes of the teenage years mean that about one in five high school students suffer with depression.

Common responses to stressful situations include flight, flight or freezing.

However, with each of those responses, comes an inward response as well.

When one goes through a stressful situation that forces them to fight, one might be inclined to self-criticize. In the context of school, a student may criticize themselves for not paying attention in class, not asking for help or not studying well enough. The counter action, or the self compassion response would be self-kindness.

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli

Whether it's exercising, eating healthy or disconnecting from technology, these are just some ways to show yourself self-kindness (For a list of 40 ways, click here).


When one goes through a stressful situation that forces them to run away- flight, one might be inclined to isolate themselves. Using the same context of school, a student may play hooky from school. The counter action, or the self compassion response would be common humanity. That student can remind themselves that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people and all he/she needs to do is get up and move on to the next challenge.


When one goes through a stressful situation that forces them to freeze, one might be inclined to ruminate. For example, a friend played with your baseball and lost it over the fence. If one ruminates on this upsetting experience, it's going to take longer to forgive that friend and get back to enjoying time spent with him or her. If one holds a grudge and constantly ruminates on what that friend did, they might even destroy a good friendship. The counter action, or the self compassion response would be mindfulness. Think to yourself, this is a sad moment, sad moments happen in my life, but I can focus on all the nice things my friends have done to me in the past, that I have lots of friends and likely, my friend was not trying to lose my baseball. To learn more about mindfulness and how it related to Judaism, I highly recommend this book.


Self compassion is not self indulgence or self pity. It's also different from self esteem. The key is to embrace what is presented, which leads to resilience which will lead to growth.


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