How does school work cause students stress and anxiety?:
While there are many stresses surrounding the lives of students, a prominent one revolves around workload and pressure. Students undergo a lot of pressure to succeed academically and to obtain achievements such as a high GPA and getting into a good college. However, this pressure can at times become overbearing and cause students incredible amounts of stress and anxiety. As of 2020, 61% of students ages 13-17 said that they were under a lot of pressure to obtain good grades, and a poll by NPR conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that 40% of parents said their high-schooler experiences a lot of stress from school, most of which stems from the student’s academics. While stress can sometimes be seen and used as a motivator, an abundance of it can do much more harm than good to the student’s well-being and their mental health as well as result in extreme cases of anxiety.
Please listen to this podcast from NPR about the stress school can give children and to learn more about its effects on students’ mental health as well as their physical health.
What is ADHD/ADD?
For those living with ADHD/ADD, the effects of anxiety and stress can become significantly magnified. The neurological disorder is one of the most common in the world, affecting around 6 million children from ages 2-17 alone. The most common effects and types of the disorder are shown in the infographs below.
Essentially every aspect of ADHD/ADD affects a person’s ability to be productive and attentive when in school or doing their homework, adding an extra barrier to success for most, and greatly increasing their overall anxiety or stress. I know countless friends and family members, myself included, who have struggled greatly academically because of their ADHD/ADD, and therefore have an experienced understanding of what techniques and methods work best to combat the challenges presented by the disorder. There have been many programs and books, even apps, that have been created to help people become more organized and productive about their work, and many aspects of my app are inspired by the many planners and reminder apps that are already in existence such as “Evernote” and “Due.”
What roles might Mindfulness and Gratitude activities play in helping to relieve some of this anxiety and stress?:
An example of one of these practices is an initiative taken by my school’s MHA club (Mental Health Alliance club) to help students struggling with anxiety over schoolwork. Like many, my school has a notoriously intense finals week, and many students feel more overwhelmed and anxious during this time than they do throughout the rest of the school year. As a result, our MHA club hosts hour-long workshops during free periods where students can hang out, talk, draw, listen to calming music, and just generally relax as a way to take a break from the stress of testing. My friends and I attend these meetings all the time and agree that they are a fantastic way to calm your nerves.
How Will My Project Use the Aspects of Positive Psychology to Accomplish my Goal?
My Project, which is designed to help students overcome and get through the stresses that come with school, is an app that uses the concepts of practicing gratitude and mindfulness to better your well-being and mental health. It will use these concepts by having activities you can interact with that will help decrease stress/anxiety and increase productivity for people with ADHD/ADD. For example, the app will host a meditation section, where the user can pick from a selection of noises, timers, and even recordings of stories or books if they would just like to relax and take their mind off of the stress of their work. It will also have a list of gratitude and mindfulness practices, and a description of each, for users looking to find a quick way to decrease their stress. Another feature will include a journal activity where users can fill out a small description of their day or write down any worries or anxieties they might have. Additionally, the app will also have a planner with unique and creative ways to help students struggling with ADHD/ADD (or any student looking for a good way to be more productive about their schoolwork) manage their time better to increase their productivity and hopefully, decrease their stress. One of the biggest motivators for this aspect of the app is the beloved “Calm” app, which provides hundreds of stories, sounds, and meditative practices to help calm anxiety and stress. All of these aspects of my app strive to accomplish the same level of results of practicing gratitude and mindfulness above but in a possibly less intense, and smaller way.
Example of the app prototype posted to the left
What Can I Do to Help?
There are many other ways to help a friend or family member struggling with anxiety other than directing them onto an app. Most times, an authentic personal connection is a better approach than any. Below is a short slideshow of some “Do’s and Don’ts” when it comes to helping someone you care about get through their anxiety.
If you are comfortable sharing, please complete this google form to help me collect more information about my topic and to better the app! Because the information will be used to help improve the app and make it more efficient and convenient for users, any advice/suggestions are very much appreciated!
Link to sources cited google doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GDyNFGzlGa1qtBEn1ITkbPSPX-jGYlK3fR_TxtE81wg/edit