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It’s Stressing me Out!

Submitted by on November 17, 2009 – 3:09 pmNo Comment

Stress_582x382Stress isn’t something that just adults suffer from – studies are showing that girls and young women suffer from more stress than their male counter-parts of the same age. While boys suffer from stress, they seem better able to blow it off than girls, while girls seem to examine and internalize their stress.

Stress in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably the reason you get out of bed in the morning (other than your mother yelling at you to get up). Stress is a motivator – it makes you focus on your goals – sometimes it makes you fit in – sometimes it supports you as you step out.

Stress becomes a problem when it leads to what is known as a fight or flight response, and you find you are just not feeling yourself.

Your biggest stressors are most likely:

  • academic / school pressures
  • peer pressure – whether it’s the pressure to buy a certain consumer good (the best cell phone, the latest fashions), or pressure to try drugs / alcohol / sex
  • you’re involved in a lot of activities besides just school
  • there is conflict within your family
  • changes in your body

When do you know if the stress you are dealing with is too much?

  • you suffer physical ailments such as headaches, nausea, stomach aches, muscle pain when you have not been working out…, etc.
  • you’re tired and can’t sleep, or when you do sleep, you are still tired
  • you are angry and you lash out
  • the opposite – you are sad and teary
  • you can’t concentrate
  • any or all of these symptoms persist and do not go away

If you are having trouble coping, try some simple steps first:

  • exercise (try yoga if you can), but something as simple as walks will help
  • sleep 8 – 9 hours a night, and try to get into a regular pattern at bedtime
  • eat well and regularly – slow down or stop caffeine intake
  • get organized – maybe you would feel less stress if your room were organized, or you have a day planner
  • do something silly – and do it often, such as putting on your favourite tune and dancing your heart out.
  • give something up – if you are overwhelmed by activities, then think about whether you should drop one for now,
  • talk to someone – a friend, a parent or trusted adult, your teacher or guidance counselor.

If the simple steps don’t work:

  • tell your parents, a teacher or a guidance counselor – and if your parents are in denial about it, definitely talk to a teacher guidance counselor
  • talk to your physician – Perhaps you are suffering from more than just stress. Depression is also more common in girls and young women than boys. Do not be ashamed to seek help with a mental health professional if that’s what’s called for. You could also take advantage of the free, anonymous, 24/7 counselling provided by Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

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