Browsing Tag:

pressure

  • School, Stress, Tips

    What Is Stressing You Out About School?

    A new school year is exciting. There’s that wonderful feeling of making a fresh start, catching up with old friends, and making progress by moving up a grade. But there’s no denying that it can be stressful too.

    What’s Worrying You

    If you find yourself preparing for school by hoping for the best and imagining the worst, you’re not alone. Here’s what we heard from 600 people who took our survey on back-to-school worries.

    32% Schoolwork Issues
    30% Social Issues
    25% Appearance Issues
    10% Nothing
    3% Extracurricular Issues

    One third said they worry most about schoolwork. No surprise there. You’ll be studying more advanced material, so it’s natural to worry about whether you’ll do OK.

    But not everyone said schoolwork was their biggest worry. Just as many people said they worry most about social issues like fitting in, having friends, being judged, or being teased. Since social life is such a big part of school, it’s not a shock that social issues are the biggest worry for some people.

    Besides schoolwork and social stuff, another category ranked high on the worry list: appearance. One-fourth of the people who responded to our survey said appearance issues worried them most of all. If this is you, you’ve got plenty of company.

    Kimberly, 14, told us, “I’m happy about going back to school — I’m bored stiff here! But I’m worried about reputation, teasing, failing, and being a nerd.”

    So we asked people to tell us how they plan to cope with the things that worry them most, and whether they have advice for others. Here is what they said.

    Managing Worries About Schoolwork

    Rachel, 15, told us, “I’m kinda hard on myself, like I feel really bad if I don’t have a 4.0 grade average.”

    Lots of people are hard on themselves, but worrying can just add to the pressure. Casey, 15, offered this advice: “Stressing too much about it doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s good to be concerned about your work, but you have to act on that.”

    Here are some of the plans you have for coping with schoolwork:

    Zach, 18, said, “Better time management. I need to stop talking with the social butterflies and get to work!”

    Michael, 16, plans to “come home, take a quick break, and then get started on my work straight away. Procrastination only brings frustration!”

    Katie, 17, offered this advice: “To avoid trouble, do homework as soon as possible and at least start projects the day you get them.”

    Finding the Right Balance — and Support

    Fallon, 16, said, “Finding time for everything is going to be a challenge!”

    Daniel, 14, agreed. “I play sports so I have to keep my grades up to play.” How does he keep the balance? “Work really hard and lean on my parents for lots of support. If you have parents around that actually take an interest in you, take advantage of that and let them be there for you.”

    Relying on other people for support and advice can help balance all the pressures school can bring.

    Claire, 15, depends on her brother. “He is 18 and has been through it.”

    Dana, 14, advised, “Use the guidance counselor. That’s why they are there.”

    Chelsea, 16, said her teachers were a big help when she was trying to catch up in school: “Since I asked for help I’ve felt more relaxed and more normal so that now it doesn’t bother me as much as it did.”

    Balancing school with life’s other demands means staying healthy. Lots of people told us their goal for the school year is to eat well, get plenty of exercise, and lots of sleep so they’ll be primed to succeed.

    Managing Social Pressures and Problems

    When it comes to the social scene, making new friends is one of the biggest worries people mentioned. Lots of people said that friends would be in different classes or even at different schools.

    Jessie, 15, said, “I’m going to try to make new friends and talk more. Don’t worry about being awkward because others are too. Lots of people are good at being cool, but they are insecure too.”

    Finding a safe, welcoming group is a great foundation for dealing with the ups and downs of school. Jessie’s advice: “It’s important to have your own little or big group that you can hang out with.”

    Lolo, 14, explained how “My best friend left last year, and I’m worried about who I’ll hang out with.” Her strategy is: “Don’t hang out with anyone who has a good social image but who is mean. Try to find someone who will really be your friend.”

    Lots of people are concerned about drifting apart from friends and breaking away from existing friendships to start new ones.

    Jen, 16, told us, “I have not talked to my best friends all summer. I don’t want to be their friend anymore, but they don’t get that.”

    Leanna, 14, said, “I am stressed about the groups and who I am going to sit with because I have different friends in different groups.”

    Tim, 14, worried about “making new friends without ex-friends spreading rumors.”

    Brittany, 15, who worried about dealing with “rude old friends” offered this advice: “Be nice to everyone. You never know who you may need help from in the future.”

    And Amina, 14, said, “There are these really jealous girls and they are always stressing me out.” She found that just being nice to them can make a lot of difference: “They will be amazed at how you treat them and maybe loosen up some.”

    Using kindness to stop meanness in its tracks is one good way to deal. Jessica, 16, has another strategy for coping with rude people: “I just ignore them. It drives them crazy when you don’t act or seem like you care about anything they have to say.”

    Some of you worry that the things you did in the past will influence how people see you now. Tina, 15, told us, “My best friend and I were in a car accident last year when we decided to go to a party instead of school. So I am worried that my peers and teachers will think that I am irresponsible because of that incident.”

    Amanda, 14, said her way of dealing with rumors and gossip is “to hold my head up high, smile, and try to create a new reputation for myself. Change the negatives into positives!”

    Looking Good

    How we feel about the way we look is closely tied to social issues, feeling comfortable, and being accepted.

    Codi, 14, said, “I am not usually a shy person, but starting high school in a new school is scary. I don’t know anyone other than those on my soccer team. I am afraid that once they see me out of my soccer clothes and in my skater cut-up clothes they won’t want to talk to me.”

    “At my old school, I was the most popular girl,” said Emily, 14. “Now I’m starting to get acne and developing.” Dealing with body changes is a big issue for lots of people.

    It’s natural to worry about appearance, but most people said they try to keep things in perspective.

    Casey, 14, said, “A year from now, will what you worried about really be a big deal? Other stuff is going to happen.”

    Lots of you recommend getting the support of a friend, parent, or counselor when you’re feeling down about your appearance.

    Keisha, 15, said, “Don’t worry about it so much. And when your family and friends say you look great, accept the compliment, because it’s true!”

    Mickie, 14, told us she has no worries about starting school, but she does have this advice for looking good on the first day: “Wear clothes that fit your style. Don’t wear something that makes you look like a poser.”

    And Lia, 14, reminds us, “If you’re worried about your clothes and how you look, just remember that it’s what’s on the inside that matters.”

    We couldn’t agree more.

    From: Teen Health

  • Stress

    Managing Stress

    What Is Stress?

    Stress is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re worried, scared, angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. It is caused by emotions, but it also affects your mood and body. Many adults think that teens don’t have stress because they don’t have to work and support a family. They are missing the point and are wrong!

    What Causes Stress?

    Stress comes from many different places.

    • From your parents. “Don’t disappoint me, clean up, hurry up, finish this, do your homework, go out for the team, practice your music, try out for the school play, do your best, stay out of trouble, make more friends, don’t ever try drugs.”
    • From your friends. “How’d you do on the test, try this, prove you’re not a loser, don’t hang out with them, don’t wear that.”
    • Even from yourself. “I need to lose weight, build my muscles, wear the right clothes, get better grades, score more goals, show my parents I’m not a kid anymore.”

    And from:

    • Watching parents argue
    • Figuring out how to be independent
    • Feeling pressure to get good grades
    • Thinking about the future
    • Being pressured to do something you know is bad for you, like smoking
    • Not being good enough at sports
    • Worrying about how your body’s changing
    • Dealing with sexual feelings
    • Worrying about neighborhood or world problems
    • Feeling guilty

     

    How Does the Body Handle Stress?

    First, here are 2 short definitions.

    • Hormone: a chemical made by one part of the body that travels through your blood to send messages to the rest of the body.
    • Nervous system: the brain, spinal cord, and all of the nerves. The nerves send messages between your brain and the rest of your body.

    The body is a finely-tuned machine that can change quickly to do what we need it to do, like react to stress. The body has two nervous systems. The voluntary system does what you choose to have it do—walk, talk, move. The involuntary system keeps the body running without your even thinking about it—breathe, sweat, digest. The body actually has 2 different nerve pathways in the involuntary system. One works while we’re relaxed, and the other works when there’s an emergency. These 2 systems can’t work together at the same time. It’s important to know this because we can shut off the emergency system by flipping a switch and turning on the relaxed system.

    Is Stress Always Bad?

    Even though stress is uncomfortable, it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes stress helps us deal with tough situations. A lot of stress changes our bodies quickly and helps us react to an emergency. A little stress keeps us alert and helps us work harder.

    Ages ago, when people lived in the jungle—where a tiger might leap out at any moment—the emergency nervous system was key to survival. Imagine your great, great, great ancestors, Sam and Zelda, munching on some berries. Suddenly they saw a tiger and had to run! Hormones gave them the burst of energy they needed to escape.

    How did their bodies react? First, Sam and Zelda got that sinking feeling in their stomachs as the blood in their bellies quickly went to their legs so they could take off. Then when they jumped to their feet, their hearts beat faster to pump more blood. As they ran from the tiger, they breathed faster to take in more air. Their sweat cooled them as they ran. Their pupils became bigger so they could see in the dark, in case they needed to jump over a log while running away. They didn’t think about anything but running because they weren’t supposed to stop and figure out a friendly way to work it all out with the tiger.

    Our ancestors never would have survived without the stress reaction, but stress helps us do more than run. It keeps us alert and prepared for the next lurking tiger.

    Few of us need to outrun tigers today, but we all have problems and worries that turn on some of those exact same stress responses, like that panicky feeling you sometimes get when you’re studying for a big test. Your heart beats fast. Your breathing becomes heavier. You sweat and get flashes of heat because your hormones are confused about why you aren’t listening to them. Why are you standing still when they are telling you to run?

    If Stress Is a Survival Tool, Why Does It Make Us Feel Awful?

    Sam and Zelda had few choices when the tiger chased them. Either the tiger ate them or they escaped. As sick as it sounds, if they’d been eaten, they wouldn’t have had much to worry about anymore, right? If they lived, you can be sure their burst of energy allowed them to outrun the tiger or at least outrun Zok (their slower friend who was eaten by the tiger). In their run for survival, Sam and Zelda used up every drop of their hormone burst and then took a well-deserved nap.

    In the modern world, our biggest worries aren’t usually about life or death. We don’t really have to run away from our problems. But those same stress hormones stay in our bodies because, unlike Sam and Zelda, we don’t use them up by running. Instead, those hormones continue to hang around, unused and confused. They seem to be asking, “Why did my body stand still when that ‘tiger’ attacked?”

    It would be better if we had different hormones for different stresses. Hormones to deal with parental pressure would make you love chores. Hormones related to school stress would make you focus longer and shut down your kidneys so you wouldn’t need bathroom breaks. But we only have those hormones that prepare us to flee or fight. So it’s really important to use your brain to decide what’s a real emergency and to use exercise to use up those hormone bursts.

    Even when there are no real emergencies, our emotions make our bodies act like there is a huge crisis because the brain controls both emotions and stress hormones. If your brain thinks something terrible is happening, your body will react as if it really is! Even a little bit of stress that never seems to go away can confuse the body. It makes the body work harder to prepare for an emergency that may not really be there.

    A tiger running at you is a real crisis. If you believe a mild stress (like a math test) is an emergency, you will not be able to study. Your body will be preparing to deal with a real tiger, and you won’t be able to concentrate on anything but escaping. The trick is to figure out when something really is an emergency and when your emotions are only treating it like one.

    From: Fostering Resilience