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Mind - Emotion Commotion

By Arthur Buchanan

What is stress?

Stress is what you feel when you react to pressure from others or from yourself. Pressure can come from anywhere, including school, work, activities, friends, and family members. You can also feel stress from the pressure of wanting to get good grades or wanting to feel like you belong. Stress comes in many forms and everyone feels stress.

How does my body handle stress?

Your body has a built-in response to handle stress. When something stressful happens, you may experience sweaty palms, dry mouth, or knots in your stomach. This is totally normal and means that your body is working exactly as it should. Other signs of stress include emotional signs such as feeling sad or worried, behavioral (your actions) signs such as not feeling up to doing things, and mental (your mind) signs such as not being able to concentrate or focus.

What causes stress?

Just being a teen can be stressful - there is so much going on and so many changes that are happening all at once!

Some things that might cause stress

school work

not feeling good about yourself

changes in your body or weight

body shape or size

problems with friends, boyfriends, or other kids at school living in a dangerous neighborhood

peer pressure from friends to dress or act a certain way, or smoke, drink, or use drugs

not fitting in or being part of a group

moving or friends moving away

separation or divorce of parents

a family member who is ill

death of a loved one

changing schools

taking on too many activities at once

not getting along with your parents or having problems at home feeling lonely

There may be other things that cause stress for you that are not on this list. Also, it can be very tough when more than one stressful event happens at the same time or stress is ongoing.

Is stress always a bad thing?

No! A little bit of stress can work in a positive way. For instance, during a sports competition, stress might push you to perform better. Also, without the stress of deadlines, you might not be able to finish schoolwork or get to where you need to be on time.

What are signs that you have too much stress or are stressed out?

Signs that you are stressed out:

* feeling down, edgy, guilty or tired

* having headaches or stomachaches

* having trouble sleeping

* laughing or crying for no reason

* blaming others for bad things that happen to you

* wanting to be alone all the time (withdrawal)

* Not being able to see the positive side of a situation

* not enjoying activities that you used to enjoy

* feeling resentful of people or things you have to do

* feeling like you have too many things you have to do.

Some of these signs can also be signs of a more serious condition called depression. To find out if you might be dealing with depression and to learn how to get help, click here.

To find out how much you are stressed out, try the Stress-O-Meter quiz.

Are you stressed about your body?

During adolescence, your body is going through many changes that are happening at a fast pace.

These changes might make you feel unsure of yourself at times, or stressed. They might make you worry about your size and wanting to fit in with the rest of the crowd.

Click below to see if you have some of the same worries other girls have about their bodies:

During puberty, not only will you get taller, you will also see other changes in your body such as wider hips, bottoms, and thighs.

Because your body is starting to produce new hormones (like estrogen), your weight may change and your body, which has both muscle and fat, will also start to have more fat compared to muscle than it did before. Changes in estrogen levels can also cause mood swings - especially around your period.

Try not to worry! Each woman changes at her own pace and all of these new changes are normal. While you are experiencing these changes keep your self- confidence up by taking good care of yourself, eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise. Remember"you are unique and beautiful"just as you are.

For more information see Changes in Your Body.

What are ways you can handle stress?

Different people are stressed by different things. For example: You might get upset or stressed when you don't make good grades but your friend might not.

You might be able to handle doing homework and being involved in after-school activities but your sister or friend might feel they can't do both.

Your friend might see moving to a new house as a stress but you might view it as an adventure.

There are no right or wrong things to stress over - there are just differences in what we consider to be stressful. No matter what stresses you out, there are many things you can try to help you deal.

How can you deal with the stress of a disaster, or a violent or tragic event?

Sometimes we are part of or have lived through a very stressful event such as a hurricane, a serious car accident, or an assault, like date rape. These kind of scary events can cause a very strong stress reaction in the victims but the reactions may be different for each person.

Some become cranky or depressed; others can't sleep or have nightmares, some may keep reliving the experience, some might experience nervousness and their hearts might race, and some people put the event out of their minds. Feelings that lead to this type of stress include fear, a sense that your life is in danger, helplessness or horror.

You don't have to be hurt to experience this type of stress, You can simply be a witness to the event or be threatened with physical harm to have this type of stressful reaction.

Whether or not you were directly affected by a traumatic event, it is normal to feel nervous about your own safety and wonder how you would react in an emergency. Here are some things you can do to handle this special kind of stress:

You may think it feels better to pretend the event did not happen, but it is best to be honest about how you are feeling. Ignoring or hiding your feelings can be worse for your health in the long run. It is okay to feel scared and uncertain.

Try to remember that, while you might feel like a changed person and everything seems off balance right now, your life will calm down and you will find a new normal groove.

Talk to a teacher, your parents, or a counselor about your sadness, anger, and other emotions. It can be tough to get started, but it is important to confide in someone you trust with your thoughts and feelings.

It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused you or those you love great pain. This feeling is normal, but it is important to understand that it is useless to respond with more violence. Nothing good can come from using hateful words or actions.

While you will always remember and feel changed by the event, the feelings will become less painful over time. In learning to cope with tragedy, you will become stronger and better at handling stressful situations. You may also find yourself appreciating life and the people you love even more.

Can stress lead to more serious problems?

Yes! Struggling with major stress and low self-esteem issues can contribute to more serious problems such as eating disorders, hurting yourself, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide. Continued depression and thoughts about hurting or killing yourself are signs that it is time to seek help. Talk to an adult you trust right away!

About The Author
Listen to Arthur Buchanan on the Mike Litman Show!

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