What is stress?

Stress affects roughly 1 in 6 young people.

Stress doesn’t always have to comes from dramatic of life-threatening incidents. It could be due to a number of smaller daily pressures like exams, school life, family and the weird and wonderful internet.

Feeling stressed doesn’t mean you aren’t “handling things”.

Feeling stressed can lead to a number of reactions, including difficulty sleeping, tearfulness, worrying more than usual, self-harm and snapping at others.

Everyone can get anxious or nervous in certain situations. For some people, it’s not a straight forward as that, and you can feel anxious for longer periods of time, or in stronger ways, and it can interfere with going about the things you enjoy.

Sometimes what you’re experiencing might relate to an “anxiety disorder” but it doesn’t always need to be diagnosed to give you a headache!

Stress isn’t always a bad thing! In fact if your life’s in danger, it can be pretty useful to have something that kicks your body into “overdrive”, and that’s what “stress” does. It’s your brain giving your body what it needs to either fighter danger or run away from it.

Of course a lot of stress in today’s world isn’t caused by things that we can easily fight or run away from (or life-threatening things at all), so sometimes your body gets flicked into overdrive and doesn’t get to release it so easily, leaving us feeling tense or worked up and leaving our body to use up what energy we have unnecessarily.

Manchester Youth Council have produced a film which explores anxiety – how its feels and what needs to change in how we all view it.
It’s called “A Piece of Mind” and you can watch it below.

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Am I stressed?

Sometimes it’s obvious when you’re feeling stressed by something, but sometimes it can disguise itself as a bunch of other stuff and it can take a moment to realise that something is causing you stress.

Stress can sometimes feel like;

stomach aches
tense muscles
rapid breathing

rapid heartbeat

change in appetite
trouble sleeping
feeling tired all the time

What can I do about stress?

Stress isn’t your enemy, but sometimes it can get out of control!
There are a lot of small things that can ease feelings of stress. It can be really useful to get in the habit of doing them frequently, even if you’re not stressed at the time. A lot of these tone something called your Vagus Nerve – one of the biggest nerve systems in your body.
Having a “toned” Vagus nerve has been shown to help people come down from stress.

Get Omega 3 and Zinc in your diet if you can (usually found in fish, spinach and mushrooms)
Explore different ways to relax, like going for run or walk in a park, having a hot bath, reading a book – everyone’s different!
Limit things like caffeine, sugar and other drugs (they make it harder for your body to figure out it’s natural “rhythm”)

Look for ways to be in “the moment” instead of worrying. Try things that let you focus your attention on something else, such as doing something creative, listening to music or meditating
Look for ways to reduce the cause of stress. If it’s something within your control (like school work for example) then try making an action plan, breaking down the things you can do into smaller, easier steps. Being able to cross these off as you can really help to feel like you’re making progress.

Switch your phone to “do not disturb” when going to bed to let your brain unwind slowly and switch on “night mode” to change the screen colour if you can (it takes the blues your brain sees as daylight out of the screen)
Keep active, even if it’s just having a brisk walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift.
Talk to others and connect with them (and say when you’re stressed!) has some useful exercises and a bit more detail about feelings of stress has plenty of information and you can phone them on 0800 1111 too.
And check out The Mix for more information:

There are great videos about mindfulness on Headspace’s YouTube channel
There’s a number of free apps designed to help alleviate feelings of stress too, including;
“Smiling Mind”, “Well Mind”, “Mindshift” and “What’s Up?”


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