Students of all ages are stressed out over many areas. It is all relative too. What may mean very little to a high school student, may overwhelm a middle school student. Parents must try to have empathy for their children when they are worried about anything, even when it does not seem like a big deal to them.
What Stresses Students Out?
What is stress? It is this feeling that you have when there are all kinds of challenges and things happening to you at the same time. It may come from different things that you are up against and if will affect both your mind and your body.
The things that stress teens out the most are school work, parents, friends’ problems, social relationships. On top of that, for teens, drugs in the neighborhood was a high stressor and for younger kids they name siblings as a stressor.
It is interesting how girls and boys try to cope with stress. Boys more often use avoidance and distraction while girls tend to look for support and will try to actively reduce their stress. Girls are more likely to find their stress coming from relationships and boys from authority figures.
Both sets of individuals use avoidance to some degree while more and more are seeing their stressed displayed with anger and aggression. Finding healthy ways of dealing with stress is very important to the health, both physical and mental for our young adults. While a certain amount of short term stress can be good, the long term - day in and day out feelings of stress, worry and anxiety are not healthy in any way.
What are your top 5 stressors?
Stress can get to us in many ways. What does it feel like to you?
Stress: What Does It Feel Like?
Fear and stress many times feel the exact same way. The reason is that both are affected by that Fight or Flight mentality. Every teen has had the challenges that range from the big test next week, to the disagreement (major fight) with your parents. It may have been a lost cell phone or the kid that is constantly picking on you in school. It could be worry about your weight or health or something global like the environment or worldwide starvation.
When you are really stressed out and anxious, you may feel it in your heart, your hands or feet getting colder, headache or a rush of blood to your face, your stomach feeling upset or having butterflies in your stomach. All of these manifestations mean it is time for you to slow down, because as you continue with the load of stressful situations facing you, you are losing physical energy and the ability of thinking clearly.
In the end it is found that 60% of doctor visits are for stressed related problems. Some studies have shown that 85% of diseases have stress related factors. So we need to take care of ourselves and start with finding what is effective for us to calm down and cope with our stress.
How do you cope with your stress?
Ever felt like this? I have too, and sometimes it is just the opposite, when I just want to go in the corner and hide from the world. Before you get this far though, there are signs that you or your friend is getting stressed out!
Recognizing the Signs That You May Be Stressed
Everyone of us, teens or adults have felt our body and mind react to stress. Some people will tell you that they hold it in and keep their feelings to themselves, while others wear their feelings on their sleeves. Either way we know when we are stressed out.
While there are some things that seems to stress everyone out, there may be things that stress you out and not another person. Some may be stressed out about political subjects or environmental issues while another may not even think about them. Some have a lot of drama in their life or are stressed by circumstances that are surrounding them. No matter what we personally stress about, when we are in the worst of the moment we feel it in our body and mind.
Our reactions to being overwhelmed and anxious may appear differently on the outside to others. Here are some ways you may be able to recognized stress in yourself or in one of your friends or family.
1. Feeling or acting out in anger. If you find yourself snapping at others, getting in arguments with those around you. If you have a friend that starts acting this way, they may be stressed out.
2. Sleep patterns. Either not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time, either way is your body telling you that something is wrong and stress may be a part of the issue.
3. Health problems. If all of a sudden you are getting headaches, stomach problems or colds that may be a sign of stress. I knew a young girl who lost her father who developed an acute case of cholitis. It was real but came on due to stress.
4. Withdrawal from others. If you or a friend starts withdrawing from friends and or family and wants to be alone, they may be really feeling overwhelmed. Or they may withdraw from important responsibilities to play games, be on the internet, watch TV or other escapist behaviors and may be seeming to have fun – but if they may also be avoiding something due to stress
5. Overwhelmed feelings. These feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious may lead to panic attacks or feeling constantly on edge. Sometimes the feelings may manifest themselves with crying for no apparent reason or just being sad.
6. Using drugs, alcohol, or smoking. If someone takes these habits up it may be a signal that something more is going on and stress may be a part of that.
7. Feelings of depression. Stress can lead to feeling hopeless, useless and like there is no way out. Sometimes this can lead to a person hurting themselves and may be manifested in cutting or the use of drugs or alcohol and can lead to a person having thoughts of ending their life in suicide.
These are all signals that you or your friend needs help and support from those that care and love you. If you have seen this in yourself or in others it would be kind to do the following for yourself or your friend.
Talk or Question:
Am I feeling overwhelmed, anxious upset or stressed out?
How is this feeling affecting me or my friend?
How are the feelings affecting my relationships with those important to me?
Persuade yourself to take action:
If you are feeling this way and can talk to someone who can support you and help Do So.
If you have a friend that is going through this be there for them.
Encourage them to seek help from those that care about them. It may be a family member or it could be a teacher or counselor.
Refer yourself or the other person to an adult.
You may not feel qualified to really help the other person. But you may be able to help them find someone that they trust and can talk to. Do not be afraid to express yourself to their parents or other family member about your concern. Stress can be debilitating and getting help can give us the support and strength we need to get over this hump.
Recognizing the signs of stress is the first step in relieving the symptoms and getting to and solving the root issues. Do it for yourself – Be there for your friends and family – Help yourself and others get back on the track of a healthy life.
All of us need some stress management techniques. We all have them, but some do more harm than good.
Coping with Stress: How Do You Cope?
Trying to stay on top of everything that we have going on in our lives can bring that stress that we have up to a level that feels more than just challenging. We can start to lose our physical energy, our sharpness for thinking and very generally lose our edge. Many of the illnesses and diseases that are prevalent today are said to be furthered and worsened by stress. How do we deal with our stress?
There are many coping strategies that are used and usually we find one that fits our personality or one that we can be comfortable with and we use it to the max. These are short term ways of dealing with the real issues and while they can help short term, may actually make things worse long term.
Distraction – Or, I’ll deal with it later
Distractions are about taking breaks and doing something else for a little while. This can help you be more focused when you return, but the danger is the more you put it off with other activities, the more stressed you may become as your time to completion gets shorter.
Avoidance – Or, I might deal with it …sometime
Avoidance is like distractions on steroids. There can be so much avoidance that each act of avoidance takes up more and more time and this leads to a vicious circle of behavior. But there are all sorts of ways that we may be avoiding dealing with our feelings of stress, from illness and sleep to over-achievement or procrastination. We will discuss in more detail later.
Escape – Or, I don’t want to deal with it…ever.
Escaping is the most dangerous of the ways we may try to cope and many times this will come after dealing with it with distraction and avoidance. Some may try to escape with the use of drugs, dropping out, lying to others, even to the point of injuring themselves of attempting suicide. Escapism only compounds the problems and we still have not looked at solving the underlying issues of our stress.
No matter our age, in elementary or high school, in college or on the job, what we really need is some stress management techniques. I hope to share some with you in the coming weeks, as I study this subject both for myself and all of our students.
Distractions come in a variety of ways. They are not good or bad, but we have to be aware when they stop rejuvenating us and become a way of procrastinating.
Coping with Stress Part 1: Using Distractions
In our last report on stress we talked about the 3 different ways that some of us cope with stress in our lives. They were distraction, avoidance and escapism. Each of them get progressively more harmful to the person practicing them. However to some degree the use of distraction can offer short term relaxation and can prove to be helpful, as long as it does not get out of control.
Distraction might be a short break to take a walk, bike ride, physical exercise, reading or other short term activity that gets our mind off the pressure at hand. The only problem with it is that the breaks can get longer or too many of them and that only leads to not getting the work done and more stress. Unless we control the distraction as a coping tool it could lead to avoiding the problems all together.
We have to be careful that we are not just using distraction as a means of procrastination. In the end we still have the same work to do, the same reports to write, and the same problems to deal with, except now we have a little less time. The signs of avoidance in my next report.