Have you ever felt sick to your stomach during a test? Have you had days when you
were so loaded down with homework
that you had trouble sleeping? Have you ever been so worried about something that
you ended up with a terrible headache?
If so, then you know what it's like to feel stress. You've probably
heard people say, "Wow, I'm really stressed out" or "This is making me totally stressed."
Maybe you hear adults say those kinds of things all the time. But kids have lots of
things going on in their lives that can cause stress, too.
What Is Stress?
Stress is what you feel when you are worried or uncomfortable about something.
This worry in your mind can make your body feel bad. You may feel angry,
frustrated, scared, or afraid
— which can give you a stomachache or a headache.
When you're stressed you may not feel like sleeping or eating, or you might sleep
or eat too much. You also may feel cranky or have trouble paying attention at school
and remembering things at home.
What Causes Stress?
Plenty of things can cause stress in a kid's life, and there are such things as
good stress and bad stress. Good or normal stress might show up when you're called
on in class or when you have to give a report. Have you ever gotten butterflies in
your stomach or sweaty hands? Those can be signs of good stress — the kind of
stress that can help you to get things done. For example, you may do a better job
on your book report if the anxiety inspires you to prepare well before you have to read
it to the class.
But bad stress can happen if the stressful feelings keep going over time. You may
not feel well if your parents are fighting, if a family member is sick, if you're
having problems at school, or if you're going through anything else that makes you
upset every day. That kind of stress isn't going to help you, and it can actually
make you sick.
Once you recognize that you're feeling stressed, there are several things you can
do. You can try talking
about what's bothering you with an adult you trust, like a parent or teacher. Bring
up what's been on your mind and how it makes you feel. An adult may have ideas about
how to solve whatever is worrying you or making you uncomfortable.
Are You Too Busy?
If you're feeling tired and stressed because you have too much going on, like lots
of after-school activities, you might feel better if you drop something, even if it's
just for a semester or so. Sometimes lots of activities — even if they're all
fun — can make you feel stressed by keeping you busy all the time. On the other
hand, if problems at home are bugging you, some (but not too many!) after-school activities
may actually help you relax and feel better.
Getting enough sleep and eating healthy food are two great ways to help handle
You also can use relaxation exercises to get rid of stress. The easiest one to
do is to inhale (breathe in) slowly and deeply through your nose,
and then exhale (breathe out) slowly through your mouth. Do this
two to four times, but don't take in too much air too quickly because it can make
you feel lightheaded and dizzy.
You can do exercises like this anytime, without anyone noticing. You can even do
breathing exercises in class if you're nervous before a test.
Finding a Balance
The best way to keep stress away is to have a balanced life. That means making
good decisions about how to spend your time. If you're only dealing with school stuff
and have no time to play, you can get stressed. Make sure you keep your SELF
in mind: Sleep, Exercise, Leisure (something fun), and Food.
If you take care of yourself and get enough sleep and food, and if you exercise
and leave time for fun stuff, you'll probably be less stressed out!