If you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

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What Is Stress And Tips To Manage It

Want to understand what stress is, how it can make you feel in your body and mind and some tips to manage it?

Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some of the more common mental health challenges, such as stress.

What Is Stress?

The American Psychiatric Association defines stress as:

Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, but can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning. Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.

We all at some point in our lives experience stress. It is a very common feeling you get when you are overwhelmed, and your brain and your mind start feeling like you are unable to cope with so many things.

At times, stress can be good for you because it can help you complete tasks that need to be done soon. However, a large amount of stress for a prolonged period of time can affect your mental wellbeing.

While the national public health emergency around COVID-19 ended on May 11, 2023, results from a recent study show that the pandemic is still weighing on people. This paired with global conflicts, racism and racial injustice, the cost of living and climate-related disasters our impacting the mental health of Americans. And there is a growing body of research showing that children are often the most vulnerable of those impacted during and after a disaster.

Today’s young people face monumental challenges at home and abroad, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed by it all. Why not focus on the things you can control and strengthen your mental resilience? Below we share some tips to get you started.

These stressors along with things like demands at school, home, pressures to succeed or fit in, can play a significant role in your mental wellbeing. For young people, there’s also the pressures of changes in your body, social pressures from friends and family and making big decisions about your future.

Long-term stress creates risks for both your physical and mental health. So it’s important to try and identify possible stressors in your life so you can try to manage your mental health now and in future.

How Stress Can Make You Feel

Stress can affect your emotions, your body and behaviour. And it can show up in a lot of different ways. If you are experiencing stress, you might feel:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Not interested in life
  • Like a sense of dread
  • Tense or worried
  • Lonely or that you are neglected
  • Depressed
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid
  • Easily irritated or angry

There are also physical effects of stress, like:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Chest pains and high blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Having problems sleeping
  • Having difficulty breathing

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. In life-threatening situations, call 911.

Tips To Help You Manage Stress

The way you respond to stress has an impact on your overall wellbeing, which is why identifying possible stressors in your life is important. You will be able to make more specific changes in your lifestyle that can lead to better mental health and, in turn, a better, and healthier lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help you manage stress:

  • Set realistic goals and daily tasks that can be completed in an orderly manner
  • Develop habits like going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, exercising, or meditating in the morning right after waking up
  • It is important to prioritize your sleep to give your mind and body a good break
  • Make sure you are maintaining a good and healthy diet, do not skip meals
  • Don’t judge yourself. Be kind to your body and mind and try not to expect too much of yourself and others
  • Take one thing at a time. Pick one important task and work on it before you move onto the next
  • Take breaks, put time on your calendar to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Whether that looks like going on a walk, a bike ride, listening, it is up to you! Focus on what makes you feel good

Managing stress looks different for everyone, and trying to find what works best for you is crucial. As with all mental health challenges, if you feel like the stress is getting too overwhelming for you to handle, don’t be afraid to talk to someone.

This could be your parents, friends, school counsellor, or a mental health specialist so that you can feel heard and so that you can be given better tools to handle whatever might be going on in your life. Click here to explore national and state specific mental health support in California, Illinois, Minnesota or New York.

Additional Resources And Support On Stress

Mental Health America have a free online stress screener to find out if stress is impacting your life.

Check out The Trevor Project’s ‘How LGBTQ Youth Can Cope with Anxiety and Stress during COVID-19‘.

The JED Foundation has a useful resource on ‘How to Cope With Safety Threats in Your Community or the Word,’ and ‘Protecting Your Mental Health From Violent Content Online.’

Check out SAMHSA’s resource on ‘Coping Tips for Traumatic Events and Disasters,’ including information on how to take care of yourself and your loved ones before or after traumatic experiences.

Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.