Stressing Seniors: The Last Semester of IB

It is already the middle of the second semester of the school year. Carrying a giant workload on their shoulders, seniors of FIS are feeling the rapidly rising stress level both physically and mentally. Even worse, the lockdowns due to the rising cases of COVID-19 have largely reduced the medium for them to release stress and maintain a balance between work and leisure. In this situation, many seniors are complaining about the difficulties of stress management, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthier and more efficient life as an IB student. To discover the actual causes and effects of stress, we interviewed Christina (grade 12) and asked her to share her experiences and thoughts.

Christina is about to graduate from Frankfurt International School this June as an IB student with future plans to attend university in the US. Just like other IB students, she has to complete many assignments in order to graduate and achieve a diploma; this involves both a TOK presentation and oral assessments. Due to preparation for these upcoming assessments, she reported an average of 3 hours of sleep each night. Many students have expressed similar stress concerning their overflowing assignments. Below is an excerpt from an interview of Christina regarding her experience with stress as an IBDP Year 2 student. 

Can you describe the most stressful situation and how you handled it.

I once had 2 essays that involved at least 2,000 words for each so I had to stay up all night. However, I couldn’t manage to meet the end. The stressful moments were when I could feel that I’m running out of time and when, before seeing the teachers, I realized completing assignments beforehand and turning [them] in on time is the best way to reduce stress. Though, there are some occasions when it is impossible to finish assignments on time with teachers giving us assignments simultaneously. Then it is wise to politely ask teachers if the change of due date is possible with assignments from other subjects as well. Another option may be letting teachers know in advance that there are struggles to hand the assignments on time. Those are my ways to handle the stress and avoid the stressful situation but this might be different for any others. 

Does stress ever impact your work-life balance?

It does a lot. Those little stressful moments lead to depression. Then the depression reduces the motivation to do work, which is a vicious cycle. 

Do you have any advice for the future graduates as IB students to reduce stress?

I advise future IB students to always finish assignments in advance. This is actually harder than you think it might be. It is important to take this into an action rather than just thinking about finishing assignments beforehand. No matter how important it is to study and finish assignments, it is crucial to take care of your stress level and your health as well!

IB students face stress everyday. Family expectations, over-commitment and all the deadlines induce stress in students. A moderate amount of stress could work positively and act as a motivation for IB students. When properly monitored and managed, the stress response contributes to a state of optimum health and well being. However, excessive stress could make it even more difficult for IB students to concentrate in their studies. 

When excessive stress is built over time, students can have some serious problems such as depression and anxiety. Mental and emotional health issues are the most common. In some extreme cases, students could even experience increased blood pressure, leading to a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

This means that stress management is essential for IB students to successfully finish their studies. Here are some tips for you to manage your stress properly.

  1. Get enough sleep. As an IB student, I agree that getting enough sleep is very difficult. If you can’t get 8 hours of sleep every night, try having a power nap. A power nap not only prevents stress but also improves your learning and memory ability. This will help you enhance your productivity!
  2. Take time to breathe. When you feel stressed and don’t know what to do, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Breathing exercises could be done anywhere to relieve stress in a short amount of time. This could be especially useful before or even during tests to reduce anxiety and keep yourself bright.
  3. Use music as stress reliever. Music can be therapeutic! You can relieve stress and calm yourself down by listening to classical music. Also, upbeat music could help you “wake up” mentally. One of the great benefits of using music as a stress reliever is that it could be used while you are doing other regular activities such as studying, washing or getting dressed in the morning. This won’t take time away from your busy IB schedule.

To complete the IB course successfully, it is fundamental to manage your stress in a manner that helps your mental or physical status, but does not disturb your daily routine.