Dealing with anxiety and stress
You might become stressed by a job interview, the build-up to exams, a big match or lots of other day to day stuff. This is normal and stress can help us get motivated for dealing with problems and pressure. Stress can even be healthy in small amounts, but if we become too stressed, it's difficult to function and our health can be seriously affected.
- Stress can be healthy in small doses and is always going to be a part of your life. Stressful situations pop up with family, at school and university, at work and even when out for a drink with friends (maybe when picking up the courage to flirt with someone you fancy!).
- Stress can be tough but without it life would be boring! If you feel nervous about taking on a challenge, imagine how good you will feel after you’ve done it.
- Stress levels are getting higher among Irish people. We all need to learn to chill out a bit!
- Getting stoned or drunk isn’t going to get rid of stress. You need to deal with the problem.
What is anxiety?
When stress gets out of hand, it becomes anxiety. Anxiety is that feeling of nerves in your stomach, of sweaty hands and of not being able to relax. It can be caused by a family situation, tough deadlines at work, an over demanding boss or teacher, a rocky relationship, exams or many other stressful situations. It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious sometimes, but it’s not good for you to feel worried all the time or to feel that anxiety is taking over your life.
If you think you’re suffering from too much stress or anxiety, check through these symptoms:
- Physical stuff like headaches, indigestion, sweaty hands, high blood pressure, dizziness, breathing heavily, feeling faint, sweating or a sudden change in your eating habits.
- Maybe you start smoking or drinking more, eating too much or not eating enough, fidgeting or rushing around nervously.
- You might also feel run down, tired, have problems concentrating or problems sleeping at night.
- You might think that you’re going mad, feel worried all the time or feel cut off from reality.
- If these symptoms sound like you or a friend then you need to work out the best way to stop stressing.
What can you do about being stressed out? When everything is piling up on top of you?
Well, one thing you can do is learn how to manage your stress. If everything is piling up on top of you and you’re trying to do three things at the same time then you can’t think straight or do any of them properly.
STOP!!! Sit down and make a list of all the things that are bugging you. Divide them up into stuff you can do something about (like homework or work projects) and the things you can’t control (like parents or friends fighting).
Things you can do something about:
Decide which is the most important or urgent and tackle that first. Then move onto the others in turn. Remember, it's not the end of the world if you don't meet a deadline or get a bit behind in your 'to do' list!
Things you can’t control:
Remember no matter what the question or the problem, there’s always someone that can help. Then have a talk about it to someone you trust. Maybe they have a good idea, maybe not. At least you’ll have got it off your chest.
Also, remember you can contact one of the many support organisations that will be more than willing to help. See our help section for supportive information and contacts details of support organisations.
It's useful to learn a “relaxation response” to calm you down when you are stressed. You start by finding a quiet place where you can lie down. Then you focus on getting comfortable, slowing down your breathing, letting all your muscles go floppy and relaxed, and thinking about being in a really calm place like lying on a beach in the sun with no worries, or taking a long soak in the bath. This imaginary calm place is your mental refuge. Imagine lots of details - the sounds, the smells, the sensations, etc. Then practice 'going there' in your mind for just a few seconds every day; it will be easy to do when you are really stressed.
Young people's chill out tips:
- Try not to let things pile up by doing a bit every day.
- Take time out to do the things you enjoy.
- Take regular meals and exercise.
- Cut down on tea and coffee intake.
- Don’t work right up to bedtime. Take some time to chill out before you put the head down.
- Write down your worries – they may not seem so bad.
- Don’t use drink, drugs or tobacco to relieve stress – they make it worse.
- Don’t try to be perfect all the time – the best you can do in the time available is fine.
- Have a laugh with some friends – aren’t we supposed to be having fun?
- Get lots of sleep – problems always seem worse when you’re over-tired.
- Make a playlist with all your favourite songs – try to avoid depressing ones!
- Go for a long walk by yourself to clear your head.
- Don’t forget the wonders that chocolate can do!
Read these do’s and don’ts, from other young people, for dealing with anger and stress:
- Don’t keep it all to yourself – tell someone who can help.
- Don’t write a big, bitchy email and send it to everyone you know…your friends will either be really offended or won’t take you seriously.
- Don’t beat anyone up!
- Don’t start screaming and shouting like a child, it will cause a complete breakdown in communication.
- Don’t swear at your parents/teachers – they won’t appreciate it.
- Try your hardest not to slam glass doors.
- Don’t turn your loudest Slipknot CD up so that your neighbours (in the next town) can’t hear themselves think.
- Don’t sulk like a two year old who’s not allowed sweets before dinner.
- Stop and count to 10.
- Tell the person you need some time to cool off and think things through.
- Tell the person why you’re angry.
- Keep breathing!
- Get rid of the tension by doing a physical activity – run; kick a ball about; beat a pillow etc.
- Make a list of the problems and then a list of the solutions.
- Listen to your favourite music.
- Tell someone your problems calmly and see if you can get help.
- Walk away from a situation where you think you might lose your temper.
- Give or get a hug…it always helps!
…and if all else fails…there’s always chocolate!
Everyone gets angry at some point, and it's okay to get angry – in fact, it’s even healthy! It’s what you do with it that matters.
Written by SpunOut.ie