Have there been days when you are really worried about something. Maybe a test, a fight with your friend or an argument with your mom. You probably had a headache or trouble sleeping.
What you are going through is known as STRESS.
What is stress?
STRESS is natural, and normal. As real and as normal as breathing! Stress is a demand. This demand then makes you worry and finally this worry in your mind can make your body feel terrible.
For kids stress is mostly “internalised” and usually shows up as bodily complaints: stomach-ache or a headache or frequent coughs and colds
However the important thing to remember is that not ALL STRESS IS BAD.
Some types of stress are positive and beneficial. For example, before a final exam although your palms may be sweaty or your heart racing, that stress gives you energy and motivation to do a good job with the paper.
Other types of stress can be harmful. Regular bad grades, too many fights with your parents or not having enough friends are some continuous source of stress. Such stress pulls you down and actually gets in the way of your performance and your happiness.
Some of the signals that you are getting stressed out:
- Feeling very sleepy or having disturbed sleep (sometimes nightmares),
- Eating a lot (usually junk food and anything sweet) or conversely losing your appetite
- Feeling irritated
- Lacking energy
- Difficulty paying attention.
Stress meter: Take this test to see how stressed out you are.
Score each item from 1 (almost always) to 5 (never) according to how much of the time each statement applies to you.
To get your score, add up the figures and subtract by 20. Any number over 30 indicates a susceptibility to stress. You are very susceptible if your score is between 50 and 75, and extremely susceptible if it is over 75.
_____ 1. I eat at least one hot, balanced meal a day.
_____ 2. I get seven to eight hours of sleep at least four nights a week.
_____ 3. I give and receive affection regularly.
_____ 4. I have at least one relative within 50 miles on whom I can rely.
_____ 5. I exercise at least twice a week.
_____ 6. I surf the net more than 5 hours a day.
_____ 7. I have junk food less than 5 times a week.
_____ 8. I am the appropriate weight for my height.
_____ 9. My family has an income adequate to meet basic expenses.
_____10. I get strength from my religious beliefs.
_____11. I regularly attend club or social activities.
_____12. I have a network of friends and acquaintances.
_____13. I have one or more friends to confide in about personal matters.
_____14. I am in good health (including eyesight, hearing, teeth).
_____15. I am able to speak openly about my feelings when angry or worried.
_____16. I have regular conversations with the people I live with about problems such as homework, friends.
_____17. I do something for fun at least once a week.
_____18. I am able to organize my time effectively.
_____19. I drink fewer than three cups of coffee or tea or cola drinks a day.
_____20. I take quiet time for myself during the day.
(Adapted from Lyle H. Miller, Ph.D. and Alma Dell Smith, Ph.D. of Stress Directions, Inc.)
How to handle stress: 7 stress busters
Most people wonder how exercise be the cure for headaches or stomach-aches. Yet, physical activity is a proven way to handle stress. Exercise releases endorphins (naturally produced chemicals that affect your brain chemistry) and gives a feeling of calmness and well being.
Do remember, exercise doesn’t necessarily mean one hour at the gym. Any physical activity is good such as walking, playing a sport or even riding a bike.
2. Handle exam anxiety:
During exams stress gets unmanageable. So tackle exam anxiety by making an intelligently planned study schedule, taking regular breaks, asking for help and doing extra research. Also read up on how to handle exam anxiety or get help from a professional.
3. Eat Right
What you eat has a BIG effect on your mood. Most of us turn to pick me up snacks to make us feel good. Chocolates, biscuits, junk food are usual culprits. Such foods cause severe mood swings resulting in a constant roller coaster of “highs” and “lows”.
A good stress diet includes having regular meals every 2 hours, eating whole-grains (that keep the mood at a balanced level), avoiding sweets, having plenty of fruits, vegetables and water.
Sleeping just one hour less can make you feel irritable and unfocussed the next day. So if you’ve had a series of late nights image the wreck you are going to be! Regular, sound sleep for 7 to 8 hours everyday is the key to reducing stress. Sleep makes you feel energized, less depressed, more active and overall healthy.
5. Talk it out:
Don’t keep your worries bottled in. Sometimes a good cry helps by letting out your pain as tears. Also talking to anyone else- a parent, teacher, older sibling, family member, or even a school counsellor can help put you on the right path and find a solution. Many schools have school psychologists or counselors who are specially trained in helping children deal with stress.
6. Learn relaxation:
Relaxing your mind and body are super important tor relieving stress. Deep breathing when you feel really tensed is very beneficial. Taking a warm, relaxing bath also helps. You can also try listening to music, play with a pet or scribble some drawings on paper. Another idea is to write down all that’s worrying you and then tear up the paper.
7. Keep a balance.
If you’ve decided to just make studies your life, you are in trouble. Similarly if you spend all your time online or with your friends you will eventually stressed out. Life works best when there is a balance. So combine serious studies and career goals with fun and play. Also set aside time for hobbies and extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, writing, art or anything else you enjoy.
Stress can have many negative effects and it can be a big deterrent to your future success. So learn to manage it today while you are young and you can set the precedent for a much brighter tomorrow.
This post originally appeared in the RobinAge.