Destressing through humor

As students, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrases “I barely even studied for this test” or “I finished this essay last period” uttered throughout the hallways. These confessions are part of an unusual recurring theme at PHS: an apathetic attitude towards academics and pride in not studying. This is seemingly contrary to the school’s competitive, high-performing image. Yet these attitudes of intentional academic negligence do make sense when considering the stressful environment they are cultivated in.

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Helen/" title="View all of this person's work">"Helen</a></span>

graphic by Helen Schrayer

The results of the recent Challenge Success Survey revealed over 80 percent of PHS students reported feeling stressed out by schoolwork. To combat this stress, students turn to that ever-reliable medicine: laughter. In fact, the idea of humor as an effective means to alleviate stress is strongly grounded in scientific evidence. A study at Loma Linda University showed that subjects who watched funny videos experienced significant drops in their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. At PHS, academic negligence goes hand-in-hand with being funny — we display our indifferent attitudes on studying and schooling in a humorous way, sometimes exaggerating our claims for comedic purposes. Sharing our experiences of academic apathy means sharing the burden of academic pressure. An individual student no longer has to deal with everything alone.

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Helen/" title="View all of this person's work">"Helen</a></span>

graphic by Helen Schrayer

For example, I was personally very nervous throughout all my AP testing. Prior to one of my exams, I laughed with friends and talked about how I didn’t study enough and how I wasn’t going to do well at all. This helped me get through the stress and redirect my focus to the task at hand. Since PHS has such a strong emphasis on academics, and as a result causes a high rate of stress among students, it makes sense that we hear so much of this academic disinterest.  Through our mutual attitudes of intentional academic negligence, we are all coming together and collectively laughing right in the face of high school stress, helping all of us persevere in this demanding environment.

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