Guide to stress and mental health



The guidance counselors and social workers want the incoming freshmen to know that there are many things they can do to alleviate their stress.

Stress. As much as people try to avoid it, sometimes it is inevitable.

Many freshmen have lived in Brookline their whole life and attended the same K-8 school, so it is anticipated that the adjustment to a new school will cause stress. The guidance counselors and social workers have advice to manage this stress and how to have a healthy mental health.

The school is full of staff for students to go to when they feel stressed. Guidance counselor Paul Epstein said students this year may experience more than the traditional set of worries experienced by incoming freshmen.

“They’re readjusting to hopefully what will be a much more normal school year. And believe it or not, I think there’s a little bit of anxiety and trepidation about coming out of the difficult pandemic months stretch that they’re going to have been in,” Epstein said.

Associate Dean and guidance counselor Alexia Thomas suggested that students take advantage of the many programs that the school has to offer to find people who have common interests. According to Thomas, finding friends who you share common interests with will help build a strong bond throughout the school year and can help with stress.

“There’s lots of different ways to get to know people, whether it’s getting involved in our Performing Arts program, or our sports program, and even just some of the clubs that we offer,” Thomas said. “I think finding a way to get connected is a nice way to have an opportunity to meet some more folks.”

Social worker John Ortiz said that once you find those friends, it is important to keep in mind the four components of a healthy relationship: respect, trust, communication and having similar goals.

“If you keep these four things in your mind when you’re interacting with folks and working on your relationships, pretty much any problem could be solved. It’s like a table: a table has four legs. The healthy relationship is on top of the table, and you have the four legs supporting it,” Ortiz said.

While having healthy friendships and relationships can help reduce stress, Thomas also highlighted the importance of taking time for yourself.

“It’s really important that you find time to take a break. Every student finds a different thing that helps them kind of calm down or makes them feel less stressed. Some people are really into mindfulness and that type of thing. Some people exercise, some people listen to music,” Thomas said.

Epstein said that another main stressor for students might be the pressure to excel academically. To help combat that stress, he said it is important to establish a healthy work-life balance. A healthy balance means that there is equal time spent with the social aspects of your life as well as the academic aspects.

“A balance is important, so you’re not too deep on the academic side of things and just killing yourself with hours and hours of studying to get that high GPA to get onto that path that leads to college applications. But also not going too far overboard the other way, where you’re all play and no work,” Epstein said.

Epstein said that Brookline is full of educators who will always prioritize the care for the wellbeing of the students.

“Brookline is a caring institution full of adults that recognize that students are people and they have lives outside of math and English. Please know that you can go to any adult in the school, whether it’s a cafeteria worker, or a principal and everything in between,” Epstein said. “You can go to those people and sit down with them in a really calm, confidential way, and talk about what’s going on to make it better.”