Everyone has experienced stress at some point in their lives, whether in the run up to exams, before a driving test, or around a big change in your life.
Stress can either be caused by our thoughts and anxieties, or by events and experiences.
What is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much pressure and feeling unable to cope with situations.
People are affected by stress in different ways. A little bit of stress can be a good thing as it triggers the 'fight or flight' response which can help you to deal with certain pressures. But when the stress builds up and hangs around, we need to learn how to relax and de-stress.
How does stress affect me?
If you're feeling stressed, you might experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms.
What can I do to stop feeling so stressed?
Stress is an warning sign that something in your life might need to change. To reduce the stress you're feeling, you might need to think about whether there are things you could do differently.
For example if you're going to school, working in the evenings, and revising for exams all at once, this could be causing stress. It might not be as simple as this, and you might have to think hard about what could be causing you to feel this way.
It might help to write down all the different things in your life that you feel pressured by, to work out if there is something you could change to help ease the stress.
Try ChildLine's Wall of Expression - write or draw what's bothering you on the wall, then knock it all down and watch your worries crumble away!
Tips for de-stressing
There are things you can do to help reduce stress, both instantly, and over a period of time. Here are some top tips:
- Breathe - to relax your mind and body, try out some breathing exercises.
- Exercise - you don't have to spend all day in the gym, anything to get your muscles moving can help to boost your mood, clear your thoughts and reduce stress - it's science!
- Sleep - try to go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day to regulate your sleeping hours.
- Laugh - laughing is proven to relieve stress, so stick on a comedy, catch up with a friend, or watch a funny YouTube video like this one.
- Talk - it can help to talk things through with someone you trust, even if it's just to offload while the other person listens.
- Say no - if you have too much to do and everyone seems to want a piece of you, it's okay to say no or turn something down. It might help to make some lists and prioritise what needs to be done, and what can wait.
Visit the Mind website for more information on the signs of stress and tips and advice on how to reduce stress.
Think you might need some help from a professional?
You could speak to a school nurse for support and advice - they offer weekly confidential 'drop-ins' in secondary schools. Send a text to ChatHealth (07507 333356) or ask in school to find out more.
You can go to your GP for help at any age. Anything you talk about is confidential and will be kept between you and your doctor.
If you're 16 or over, you can also refer yourself for free support from the Wellbeing Service. This could be in the form of short term counselling or a telephone call from a professional, or wellbeing workshops or classes. For more information, visit the Wellbeing Service website.