by Dana Winters
Were you ever tempted to stay home sick on the day you had to read your report aloud in class? Have you been caught between two friends or felt like you had to do something you really didn’t want to do? Have you ever struggled with a can’t-go-back choice, like picking cross country over hockey, even though you love them both? Do you ever feel fed up with all the changes going on with your body?
Everyday life makes everyone a little stressed. And you can get totally stressed out by bigger problems, like helping a friend through a hard time, discovering your parents are splitting up, or having someone close to you get sick or die. Life can get pretty crazy.
When you face uncertainty, danger, upset, or unfamiliar situations, your mind and body release hormones and chemicals that make you feel stressed. Nature designed them to give you the extra energy and determination you need to reach your goals, so stress can be good. But if it lasts a long time with no break, it can completely wipe you out, and that’s when you need help dealing with it.
How can you tell if you’re stressed? Different people’s bodies respond in different ways. Some people get headaches or upset stomachs; some lose sleep or have nightmares. Your hands and body can get sweaty or your period may not come on schedule. You might get bad acne outbreaks or even itchy bumps called nervous hives.
There are tons of ways to deal with stress. First, you have to find ways to let it out. Then, you have to try to do something about what’s causing the stress in the first place.
You relieve stress by giving your mind and body a break. Try something simple like relaxing and taking deep breaths. Or, take your mind and/or body on a mini-vacation: read, dig out an old game or hobby, listen to music, or watch a movie. Physical activity is a great stress buster; run, bike, or dance away your nervous energy.
It almost always helps to talk about your feelings with someone else you trust. If you don't feel you can talk about a problem, write it down or pray about it. Crying helps, too. Tears help your body get rid of stress chemicals that make you feel sad and tense.
Many girls get stressed because they’re afraid of letting other people down. One of the best ways to prevent and deal with stress is to know your limits. It’s OK to say no if it doesn’t feel right to do things other people ask you to do – or even if you just want some time to yourself.
If stress builds up too much or for too long, you can get anxiety or depression. When stressful emotions or situations seem like they simply won’t go away, ask for help from a parent, doctor, or trained counselor. When you feel stressed, you need support and you need to take care of yourself. And remember that stress is natural—everybody has it! A little bit of stress helps us know we’re alive!
© 2004 New Moon® Publishing, New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.
Content last reviewed May 15, 2008
Page last updated October 31, 2013