Here’s what to do…

Stress is your body’s response to things getting too much. Everyone feels it at one time or another. We can’t stop it happening, but we can understand it and know what to do about it.

What we feel when we’re stressed is primal, cave-man stuff – that fight, flight or freeze feeling, when we can’t handle a situation, or our brain perceives we’re in danger or under threat. We feel it when there is an actual danger or threat, but also when there’s just too much to do, or we don’t feel able to do something. In this state, our bodies produce adrenaline and cortisol to help us get through the situation. And when this happens, the parts of our brain that help us think, shut down, so we can focus on survival. That’s why it’s impossible to concentrate, or think clearly, or learn, when we’re stressed.

If we experience too much stress, or we are in a constant state of underlying stress, it can cause further problems, like not being able to sleep, eating too much or too little, not being able to focus or feeling anxious all the time.

So what can we do about it?

  • Know the triggers: what kind of thing makes you stressed? Is there a pattern? Is there any way to avoid it, or approach it differently? Is there someone that could help you with it?
  • Be realistic about what you can do: often stress is a result of feeling overwhelmed and this can be because we’ve over-committed or taken on a task that we don’t feel able to do. We can’t do anything well when we’re stressed, so it’s best to be be realistic and ask for help or say no to things we can’t manage.
  • Look after yourself: sometimes, all we need to do is get more sleep and/or eat better. Stress can make us eat more, or not eat enough. It can also make us crave the wrong kind of foods, like those high in sugar and fat, which end up making us feel worse. The healthier we are the better we are able to cope with stress.
  • Get into your body, not your head! Endorphins, released by our bodies when we exercise, improve the quality of our sleep and reduce stress. We can even produce endorphins by breathing deeply, which is why relaxation and meditation can help too.

If you would like to talk to someone about a worry or anything else, you could speak to your Tutor, Pastoral Manager or Anti-bullying Ambassador, make an appointment with Place2Be (via your House) or use the online anonymous counselling service Kooth.com.

Elizabeth Denton

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