With exams either underway or coming up, teenagers will be feeling the heat over the next few weeks. Many may become stressed, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them and ensure that the stress doesn’t lead to other problems, including depression.
When we talk about being stressed, it usually means we are tense about something that is happening in our lives. Some stress can be a good thing. It can help us to get motivated to do things. But too much stress (and how much is too much?) varies from person to person.
Stress is a normal part of daily life. It’s a natural physical and mental response that is designed to help you cope effectively with emergencies. Among other things, stress makes your body produce chemicals that raise your heart rate and blood pressure, and increase mental focus.
This helps you to perform well in a challenging situation over a short period of time.
How do you know if a person is stressed?
Most people, whether they are young or old, get stressed sometimes. Stress can be caused by a lot of different things, but common causes in young people are to do with school, work, family or relationships. Whatever the cause, the results are usually the same.
Common mental health symptoms of stress include:
• feeling angry or irritable
• feeling anxious
• being moody and easily frustrated
• feeling like crying often
• having low self-esteem or lacking confidence
• feeling restless all the time
• having trouble concentrating.
Common physical symptoms include:
• feeling sick in the stomach
• having constipation or diarrhoea
• having stomach aches and/or headaches
• having problems sleeping
• feeling constantly tired
• sweating a lot
• having cramps or twitches
• feeling dizzy or fainting
• eating too much or too little
• using drugs or smoking.
What you can do about it
There are some simple tips to help reduce and deal with stress, including:
- Take time out. Don’t spend too much time worrying about things that are stressing you out. Take some time to do something distracting or something you enjoy, such as going out with friends, going to the gym or watching a movie.
- Keep things balanced. Try to make sure you have a balance in your day between work/school and doing the things that you enjoy.
- Get organised. Organise your time so your homework and assignments are not left to the last minute and avoid studying until late at night.
- Exercise. Physical activity such as swimming, walking and yoga can help to reduce the tension in your muscles and your mind.
For more information about dealing with stress, visit www.youthbeyondblue.com or call the beyondblue info line on 1300 22 4636.
Trained counsellors are also available by phoning these 24-hour telephone counselling services: Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.
* This information is based on fact sheets from Youthbeyondblue.com and ReachOut.com
Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha