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.
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.
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, romantic 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.
A study by Yale University has just come out and it claims that people and especially children can become addicted to fast food and “comfort foods”. Of course this would lead possibly to a reason for the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the nation. If this is in fact the case, that would call for us to re-think how we are approaching the obesity issue. Should we be looking at it as an addiction issue or continue with the techniques we are using presently.
If though it is an addiction issue is it strictly a physical issue or do we need to be looking at the emotional issues that many times contributes to taking part in addictive activities. Could it be that the stress that so many of our children feel is a contributing factor, or is it due to low grade depression? I of course do not know the answer to those questions. I do know however that stress is a bigger part of the lives of our children than most of us parents are able to comprehend. Much of the reason for that is that we have a tendency to compare the child’s causes of stress to our own and – well there seems to be no comparison. But in fact our children do have high levels of stress in their lives, socially, academically and many worry over pleasing their parents.
What can children do about this? As parents we have a responsibility to help them have tools to combat stress, which means we must have tools to do the same. Where do we start? I would suggest starting with some quiet time to take some deep breaths and calm ourselves. Follow that with some physical movement to relax all of our body parts, and then ask ourselves “What is the most important thing I can do right now that will have the biggest impact on my life, job, family? Then take care of that one thing.
The world we live in is constantly changing and as parents it can be challenging to know what our children are facing and trying to deal with on an everyday basis. The way we were raised may have been good for the time that we lived in, but now is a different age and era with a whole new set of issues, ideas and challenges. Unfortunately our children are facing these challenges everyday and they may not have the words or the courage to tell us what is going on in their minds and hearts.
This may not be the lists that ends all lists, but I believe it gets to the root of many of the issues that our children are having to deal with. So what are the trends that our children are dealing with? Not in any particular order I have placed these. You may think your child is not dealing with some of them. That may be true and then again maybe not. As you consider each of these and look at the references and further reading I encourage you to stay close to your child, talk to them without judging, build a community around them, help them feel like they belong to something that is bigger than them.
This is the time of the year when all our students are taking part in the MSP testing in the schools. With that brings a fair amount of stress on the students and therefore on the families they are a part of everyday for the next couple of weeks.
This led me to think about the idea of how much joy is in our life? As I see adults go through their life, many times we are so busy climbing the ladder of success that we don’t take time to enjoy the journey. We begin teaching our young ones how to do that very early in their life too. As students, in what seems in younger and younger ways all the time, we teach them to plan and work hard, and as they have accomplishments we(they) see them as good because they lead to somewhere. The kids are constantly planning and working on going to high school, college, a good job, relationship, always with the next goal or challenge in mind, but none of them being relished or celebrated. But are they or we enjoying the journey? Probably not!
We are not machines and when we reduce ourselves to that, we become mechanical and the joy is gone from living. To increase the amount of joy in our kids / our lives focus our attention on all the wonderful things that happen in our day to day experiences. When we are appreciative of the people and the things around us we are filled with a sense of well being and joy.
Take a minute with yourself and kids each day to show gratitude. Make a short list in the morning or evening of things you are grateful for. If you have a hard time at first it is ok. As you focus on showing gratitude in your life, your joy will grow too.