The end-of-the-semester crunch can leave you feeling on edge. Between homework, final exams, and extracurricular activities—not to mention an ongoing pandemic—you may be struggling to calm your nerves when big deadlines start creeping closer. A little stress in our lives is not a bad thing. It helps us develop important coping strategies, build our time-management skills, and strengthen our resiliency. But once you begin to feel overwhelmed, that pressure can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. In recognition of National Stress Awareness Month this April, the team at ALVS has created a Five-Step Stress-Management Plan to give you the confidence boost you need and help you handle many of the day-to-day challenges that come your way as the school year wraps up. Develop, prioritize, and set your goals for the rest of the school year. When you’re busy, what feels better than crossing off something your must-do list? Work with an adult in your house to develop a calendar that lists all your activities and deadlines for the next two months. An organizing app like Cozi allows you to set up reminders and share your calendar so that you have an extra level of accountability to stay on track. In addition, work well in advance of any due dates to avoid procrastination and the stress that comes with it. While many teens think they work better under pressure, putting off projects can lead to bad habits, such as relying on caffeine and other stimulants or pulling all-nighters that impact your sleep patterns. Speaking of sleep, get plenty of it. Did you know teenagers need more sleep when they hit high school? Between the ages of 13 and 18, teens go through “a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation” and require at least nine hours of sleep a night to promote healthy brain development. Unfortunately, the average teen only gets seven hours of shuteye. When it’s time to wind down, the best thing you can do is to shut off all electronic devices—including your TV and smartphone—30 minutes before bed and pick up a book to read. Why? The blue light affects the body’s production of melatonin, the natural hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Find support if school is a struggle. More than half of the students in a study by NBC News and Challenge Success said that the pressure to do well in school has increased since 2019 with grades, assessments, and college fears being some of the top stressors. If you’re worried about your grade in a specific subject, don’t go it alone. Reach out to your teacher for extra help, or schedule time with a tutor (ALVS students can talk with our tutors via live chat Sunday through Friday). ALVS also offers a full catalog of online Tutorials to help you close learning gaps in your core classes so that you’re ready to take final exams, prepare for your end-of-course (EOC) assessments, or go into ACT or SAT test day with confidence. Once you purchase a Tutorial, you can access it anytime for up to six months. Learn more at apexlearningvs.com/tutorials. Take time for self-care. Self-care doesn’t have to mean bubble baths and pedicures. Sometimes, just taking a mini break during your end-of-year cram sessions—whether that means going for a quick walk around the neighborhood or breathing deeply while you listen to relaxing music—can calm your brain and get you back in a better mindset for studying. Also, be sure to schedule some time in your calendar to hang out with friends and family members—and if that free time is outside, that’s even better because a shot of serotonin from the sun can reduce your stress, improve your move, and enhance your focus. Don’t isolate yourself from others. When you’re feeling stressed, sometimes, you just want to hide out from everyone and everything, and that’s OK. But when the pattern repeats—or you feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness or sadness—reach out to an adult you trust as soon as possible. Your teachers, parents, or other relatives can help you identify the emotions you’re feeling and, if needed, connect you to a mental health counselor who will work with you to develop coping skills and prevent any issues from escalating. We know that the spring semester can be a challenging time, but you’re not in it alone. At ALVS, we’re here to make this time less stressful for our students who are working so hard to meet their academic goals. If you’re struggling, please reach out to our Student Services Specialists through the live chat on our website, at email@example.com, or by phone at 855-550-2547.