Rachel Lincoln, Class of 2012, is writing about social issues that affect teens as part of her Senior Project.
Stress is present in all of our lives – especially teenagers. The greatest cause of stress for adults is work. For many teenagers, it is school. Stress is something that affects all of our lives, and a lot of stress causing factors come from our very own East Providence High School. Whether its senior project (like for me), portfolios, worrying about graduating, drama, or homework, we all have them. How it affects you depends on how you handle it.
Stress is defined as a psychological and physical response of the body that occurs whenever we must adapt to changing conditions, whether those conditions are real or perceived, positive or negative. Although everyone has stress in their lives, people respond to stress in different ways. Some people seem to be severely affected while others seem calm, cool, and collected all the time. The causes of stress vary person to person.
A variety of events can trigger stress. Stress may be brought on by a job interview, school tests, or competition. These kinds of short-term stress are normal and at times healthy. This type of healthy stress could cause you to be able to stay focused and complete the task at hand. Long-term stress, or “chronic” stress, is caused by stressful situations or events that last over a long period of time. This level of stress can come from problems at work or conflicts in your family. Over time, chronic stress can lead to severe health problems; problems can range from mild to severe.
Stress doesn’t only affect people mentally, but can also have physical effects on your body. Some of the physical side effects of stress are elevated blood pressure, stomach pains, sleeping problems, chest pains, headaches, and difficulty breathing. It has even been shown that if someone already has a disease or sickness, stress can worsen this ailment. The mental and emotional effects of stress can be irritability, tension, inability to concentrate, and feeling excessively tired. It basically makes school that much harder to go through on a day to day basis. It cannot be stressed (pun not intended) enough though, that it is not a healthy alternative to turn to drugs and alcohol as some people do. Many times, it leads to addictions and does not even help the problem at all. Once the high and the drunken stupor wear off, your problems will still be there and sometimes worst than before.
Lastly, let's talk about how to work with and work through the stress. While talking with many of our fellow students at school, I brought up the subject of stress and what they thought were some of the main culprits of stress at our school. The most frequent responses I was given were senior project and deadlines, which go hand in hand with graduating, homework load, and drama and conflict with fellow students, family, or even teachers. The first steps to combating stress are firstly identifying how you personally cope with stress. Good ways to identify these are to keep a stress journal which will help you identify your personal coping methods to stress. Many of the times people will realize that they are coping with stress in negative ways, such as using drugs and alcohol, overeating or undereating, sleeping too much, procrastinating, or taking out stress on others by lashing out and being confrontational. After identifying how you personally deal with stress, you can then begin to deal with stress the right way.
While researching about stress I came across a few different methods to healthily deal with stress. The first method to dealing with stress is avoiding situations that will produce stress. Know how to say no and not take on more than you can handle, avoid people who add stress to your life, and lessen your to do list. Make sure that you have time for yourself to be able to calm down and focus on you. Another strategy for working through stress is altering a particular situation so the outcome does not include stress. This one means communication is key. Express how you are feeling, don’t keep emotions bottled up inside. This is just a ticking time bomb for you to have an emotional breakdown and explosion. Be more assertive in your life by addressing the problems at hand and properly deal with them. Also learn how to manage your time more effectively to completely avoid the stress that comes with procrastination.
There are many other different types of healthy ways to deal with stress. For a complete list of healthy ways to deal with stress, you can check out http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm.
Stress affects every person’s life at some point or another, whether it is in a healthy way or a negative way. If you are ever under great amounts of stress that is school related, the first step to fixing and reversing the stress is by talking to someone. Whichever way you chose to deal with stress, remember that there are always healthy ways to deal with stress. Its just up to you to make the smart decision and fix it.