What is stress? Psychology Today describes stress as a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life.
So you may ask yourself, what can a teenager be stressed about? Well some stressors can be: relationship with parents and family, friends (peer pressure), school (tests or grades), bullying, too much on their plate (activities, sports) and not resting/relaxing.
In all individuals there is GOOD and BAD stress. Good stress is a stress response that can be helpful. For example, during an emergency situation it can help to prepare you. Think of it as when a driver has to slam on the breaks to avoid an accident or if you are getting ready for that big presentation, big dance, or studying for that final exam. A little of this “good” stress can help keep you on your toes, ready to rise to the challenge.
However, with the good, there does come the bad. Bad stress consists of on going or long-term events in your life such as: divorce, moving to a new neighborhood, relationships, bullying or school. Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting low-level stress that’s hard on anyone, adults and teens included. When this occurs, the nervous system remains slightly activated and pumps out extra stress hormones over an extended period. This can wear out the body’s reserves leaving a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed, weaken the body’s immune system as well cause other problems.
You can recognize stress by the following…
BODY: headaches, frequent infections, muscular twitches, fatigue, skin irritations, breathlessness
MIND: worrying, muddled thinking, impaired judgment, nightmares, indecisions, negativity, hasty decisions
EMOTIONS: loss of confidence, more fussy, irritability, depression, apathy, alienation, apprehension
BEHAVIOR: accident prone, loss of appetite, insomnia, restlessness
The good news is that there are ways to help you mange stress. Some of these ways are…
Be realistic: Don’t try to be perfect, heck, NO one is.
Get a good nights sleep: It has been said more than once, that getting enough sleep helps keeps your body and mind in shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors.
Learn to relax: (I know easily said than done) Try to do activities that are calming and pleasurable for you. Examples could be: reading a book, making time for a hobby, spending time with your pet, or just taking a nice relaxing bath.
Treat your body well: You can do this with exercise and eating well. Getting regular exercise helps manage stress and eating well helps your body get the right fuel it needs to function at its best. It’s a win win situation when combined.
Solve the little problems: Develop skills to look at the problem, figure out options, and take some action toward a solution.
Lastly, it’s important to understand that some stressors require additional support. There are several resources available for you to access based on your current situation. Some resources include but are not limited to: Contacting your physician or insurance company to obtain a referral to a mental health provider, many employers offer EAP services that you are able to access for mental health situations-contact your HR office to determine availability, consult with members of your religious community, or if you need immediate help and are having suicidal thoughts of death or suicide please call 911 or the National Hopeline Network at 800-442-4673.