Stress is something we all experience at different points in our life. High stress levels can have both physical health and mental health consequences. How we deal with stress can impact our mood, our self-esteem, and even our general health.

Identifying Stress

Mental and physical symptoms of stress:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Sweating/jittery
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or bad dreams
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomachaches
  • Low motivation
  • Eating more/less
  • Racing heartbeat

Some common causes of stress:

  • School, homework, and tests
  • Friends
  • Families
  • Siblings
  • Divorce
  • Death
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Sports
  • Sickness
  • Money
  • Gender identity

Seeking Help

Indicators that it may be helpful to consult with a counselor:

  • Anxiety, including insomnia, irritability, restlessness, inability to concentrate, nervousness, and fearfulness, that is uncomfortable and lasts more than a month.
  • Anxiety attacks with chest pain, discomfort, trembling, shaking, dizziness, nausea, fear of going crazy or losing control.
  • Feelings of depression, like sadness, hopelessness, crying spells, loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy, low self-esteem, or fatigue, that lasts for more than a couple weeks.

Tips for managing stress:

  • Deep breathing: Take a deep breath from your diaphragm until you feel your lungs fill completely. Slowly release the air through pursed lips as if you are blowing out a straw.
  • 2 minute breathing: Inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. Do this for 2 minutes until your heart beat slows down and your breathing becomes even and steady.
  • 5 minute vacation: Close your eyes and breathe deeply 3 times. Visualize a favorite vacation place, activity, or a place where you have experienced joy and comfort. What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? Use all your senses to imagine this special spot that’s refreshing and relaxing.
  • Music: Find a comfortable place at home and play soft, soothing, wordless music that is relaxing. Breathe to the rhythm of the music.
  • Journaling: Write down a list of worries, fears, pressures, and concerns that are crowding your mind. Writing down thoughts and concerns can help to clear your mind of worries and help you make sense of your stress.
  • Talk it out: Share your feelings and experiences with someone you trust (parents, teachers, counselors). You will find a release of negative energy by sharing your worries.
  • Peaceful focus: Focus on something pleasant and beautiful in your immediate environment (a blade of grass, a painting, a color). Concentrate on the beauty and the positive energy and breathe deeply. Allow the energy to flow through your body.
  • Limit your intake: Limit the amount of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and sugar you ingest. Try to balance your nutrition.
  • Control your activity: Manage your time. Balance work, play, and school. Take time for yourself.
  • Exercise: Find approximately 30 minutes a day to take time for yourself and get some exercise. Exercise has been proven to help reduce the stress in our lives.
  • Seek professional help: Find resources in your area that can help you manage your stress.
  • Playing with pets: Animals can provide comforting attention that can alleviate stress.