Anxiety and Stress

Stress is a very normal part of life. Everyone feels stress at some point about something. Sometimes, it can last just a minute, an hour, or a day, but sometimes, our worry about something can keep us stressed for days, weeks, or months. Even if we’re not always thinking about it, worry and stress are there in the background, affecting our appetite, sleep, ability to concentrate or engage with others, and more. So how can you cope and keep stress from becoming overwhelming? Here are some proven tips:

  • Understand what is stressing you – It can seem like lots of things all at once, but when you really stop to think about it, there is usually one key situation and/or feeling that is stressing you out. 

  • Practice small “stress-busting” skills – chill out for 10 minutes, meditate, count to 10 (or 20, or 30), work out, go for a walk, listen to music, journal, etc. 

  • Take action – look at what you can do something about and do it, or talk to someone you trust (a school counselor, teacher, mentor, parent or friend). Sometimes just talking it out can help you see the situation for what it is and how to handle it. 

When stress and worry become overwhelming, anxiety (or a sense of anticipated danger, trouble, or threat) can develop. Some anxiety is okay and normal, but if you feel your heart pounding, sweaty palms, trouble breathing normally, etc., it may be something more serious. Anxiety disorders are common and treatable, but left untreated, they can begin to affect your ability to leave your home, go to school, walk down the streets of your neighborhood, and more. These feelings will probably not just get better on their own, and professional help may be needed. So what can you do? Here are some first steps:

  • Talk to someone you trust – a school counselor or teacher, mentor, or parent. Tell them about what you have been feeling and see if they have any thoughts or suggestions. 

  • Go see the doctor – visit your primary care doctor just to rule out that there is nothing physical causing the problems you are having. 

  • Ask for a therapist referral – there are therapists trained to work specifically with youth, and they can help you process feelings and work on ways to manage the stress and anxiety.

  • Be patientyou didn’t get here in a week, and you won’t work your way out of it in a week, either. It takes time to feel better, in addition to a dose of courage, but letting go of worry and fears and working through those stresses and anxiety will allow more space for you to find happiness and fun in your life.

To learn more, check out these websites:

Books for Children and Adults

  • When My Worries Get Too Big! by Kari Dunn Buron

  • David and the Worry Beast by Anne Marie Guanci

  • Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook

  • Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents by Ronald Rapee PhD and Ann Wignall D Psych


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