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?
Coping with Stress: Escapism As Coping Tool
When you have reached the limits of your abilities to cope with stress in your life, you may still be embarrassed, scared or so overwhelmed that you start taking part in escapist behaviors to try and feel better. For teens this may be skipping school, running away from home. For both adults and teens there may be a turning to drugs and alcohol, lying to people to avoid responsibility and it can get so bad that some feel so hopeless, that they may take to hurting themselves physically or even having suicidal ideation.
Obviously any and all of these behaviors can bring on even more problems that can last a lifetime. Short term techniques to try to deal with stress are never as helpful as learning how to really deal with the issues or problems that are making us feel so overwhelmed. We will continue to talk about stress among children and teens in upcoming articles, but if you are a teen or child, just know that talking to an adult that you trust is a great first step and one that you should take for your own well being. If you are an adult being aware that our children, even the ones that seem to have it all together, may be feeling the pressures of their schedule or workload along with all the social pressures that teens have.
Being able to listen without judging, and knowing that you do not have to have all the answers is key to gaining the confidence of the child or teen. Recognizing the signs of stress and coping skills that they may be using can help us to get a head start on avoiding larger problems in the future.
Reduce Stress: Do Something Physical Part 1
Without getting all scientific on you, there are many reasons that physical activity is great when you are feeling stressed. First when you are stressed out your body produces cortisol and that can make you feel even more nervous and anxious, even to the point of feeling sick. Getting active will use up some of that cortisol and that will help to reduce the nervous feelings.
Just as important the physical activity also produces a chemical – endorphins – that help you feel good! They improve your mood and help you slow down, as well as when you are tired you can sleep better. All of us know of the physical health benefits of exercise, but the mental health benefits are great too.
What is your favorite thing to do? Is it walking, dancing, martial arts, skateboarding, basketball, frisbee??? Any activity can be good and if you make it a habit to get some activity that you enjoy in everyday you will find your stress levels being reduced. But when we sit around or are dormant, or only worry about what we ‘have to do’, then our stress levels will go up.
One warning; Do not let physical activity become a distraction to the point of being an escapism method. Physical activity and especially sports and teams can become overwhelming if we are over achievers and only add more stress to our lives, if we are trying to fit too much in to our schedules. Finding the balance of some physical activity everyday while continuing to work on the root causes of our stress is the best.