Published on Oct. 28, 2o2o

Special Feature 

How To De-stress Amidst the Mess

Students share their methods on relaxing through art, reading, and skateboarding

By Dorothy Hoang & Alexis May Go

With all the stressful events occurring during shelter in place, students find themselves with a handful of time but also a lot of weight on their shoulders. We interviewed fellow AHS students about how they dealt with all the current events but also how they made time for themselves. 

Photos Courtesy of Kayla Sunardi

Senior Kayla Sunardi

Senior Kayla Sunardi paints nature scenes onto canvases using acrylic, oil paints, and watercolor to calm herself in times of stress. She often paints at night because it is a time when she is at her “prime to paint,” as she called it. Sunardi has attempted to paint cartoons before but she finds it difficult and prefers to paint nature because she finds it to be the best way to express herself. 


“As a perfectionist I’d be like, ‘Oh it’s crooked or the line’s not straight,’ but whereas in scenery paintings, it's nature, it’s imperfect already,” Sunardi said. 

Painting requires time and Sunardi often spends two to three-and-a-half  hours on a single piece but she believes that her organization has allowed her time to express herself. Besides art, Sunardi writes her thoughts into a journal whenever she feels too overwhelmed and finds exercise, hiking, as well as tv as good outlets to vent. 


Her favorite piece is of a waterfall. Whenever she paints, she imagines herself at the scene of the subject and adds her own personal touches to the painting based on her mood and thoughts at the time of the painting. The waterfall piece is a reminder of her hikes in Indonesia; a country that she visited often. 

Senior Tina Hyunh

Senior Tina Hyunh started drawing at a young age after watching her father design buildings for his career. 


“Before we went to America, [my dad] used to be an architect in Vietnam and I would always see his drawings of buildings and it was really cool. So I wanted to try drawing too,” said Huynh. 


In her spare time or whenever she needs time off from school, Huynh spends time with her family but occasionally, she would embroider, paint, or draw to destress. 


“It’s really satisfying to see the [progress] I make when I paint. From the draft to like the final version, I think it’s really fun and I like painting and seeing the brush strokes,” said Huynh.

Her mediums include watercolor and acrylic. However, she prefers the easy mixing of acrylic as opposed to the slow-drying trait of watercolor. Depending on a piece, Huynh would take about 2 hours but sometimes she would forget and would not finish for another 2 weeks. As for her style, Huynh prefers to create cartoons and attempts to replicate scenes from her favorite shows and movies including Howl’s Moving Castle from Studio Ghibli, a prominent Japanese animation studio.


“[Cartoons] are easier in a way. And also they have more creative freedom, it doesn't have to be perfect,” said Huynh. 


She admits that there are times when she gets frustrated with her hobby whenever the colors do not mix the way she wants them to. However, because of this, she learns to accept those imperfections and finds that she can apply these experiences to her life. 


“Whenever I start something, I always want to go head-on onto it [...] Whenever I hit an obstacle, I kind of slow down and stop and I don’t think about it for a while. Similar to how I start painting for a week or two. And after a while I think I am okay with it not being perfect. I tried my best on it,” said Huynh. 

Photos Courtesy of Tina Huynh

Junior Scott Gluckert

Junior Scott Guleckert makes it his goal to read ancient Chinese philosophy books at least once a day, preferably at night. He believes that the reason why he prefers to read under that genre is because of his love for history. 


“A lot of books on military philosophy can give you insight into certain decisions that were made throughout history,” said Guleckert. 


These decisions also help him make decisions in his own life. Ironically, Guleckert also finds peace in reading military philosophy books. 


“It sounds kinda weird but I guess [I feel] peace because [they talk] about how the main goal of war is to achieve peace,” said Guleckert.

Many of the books that he reads are written by unnamed Chinese authors, many of whom write about military strategies. Besides reading, Guleckert practices mindfulness by doing breathing exercises as well as by listening to nature. 


“Sometimes I’ll just sit down and listen to the sounds outside; I’ll just open the window and listen to what’s going on,” said Guleckert.

Photos Courtesy of Scott Gluckert

Senior Brian Martin

For some, calming activities are good for clearing the mind, however, for senior Brian Martin, adrenaline is his source of serenity. 


“Landing a trick that you’ve been trying for like a long time feels really nice.” Martin said. 


Senior Brian Martin found an interest in skateboarding at a young age through gaming, but he picked up his first board during sophomore year through the encouragement of his peers. Martin typically skates for 5 hours 4 days of the week after social distance learning and completing his asynchronous work. Martin states that skating helps him steer clear of current events.

“I guess skating keeps me distracted from the world. It’s like everything is going crazy,” said Martin.

Photos Courtesy of Brian Martin

Martin’s younger self would not have known what skating could do for him but later he would know skating with friends would bring him an unexplainable joy later.


“Being [skating] with your friends is like a motivator… you have to skate to know, it’s like a weird feeling,” said Martin.

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