Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.
Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
We all sometimes talk about stress, and feeling stressed, usually when we feel we have too much to do and too much on our minds, or other people are making unreasonable demands on us, or we are dealing with situations that we do not have control over.
How to manage stress
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.
Spotting the early signs of stress will also help prevent it getting worse and potentially causing serious complications, such as high blood pressure.
There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your stress, keep a diary and make a note of stressful episodes for two-to-four weeks. Then review it to spot the triggers.
Things you might want to write down include:
the date, time and place of a stressful episode:
- What you were doing?
- Who you were with?
- How you felt emotionally?
- What you were thinking?
- What you started doing?
- How you felt physically?
A stress rating (0-10 where 10 is the most stressed you could ever feel) You can use the diary to:
- Work out what triggers your stress
- Work out how you operate under pressure
- Develop better coping mechanisms
The NHS defines Peer pressure as the pressure that your friends and the people you know, put on youto do something you don’t want to do (or don’t feel ready to do).
Peer pressure is very strong during the adolescent years. Since so much time is spent with peers, the influence can be more powerful than that of parents, teachers, or other authority figures. During the day, teenagers spend more time with peers than with their family members. Friends, or peers, with whom your teen associates directly affects the perspectives and values the teen holds and directly influences the decisions your teen makes.
Today’s teenagers are using social media and smart phones 24/7. They stay in constant communication with friends and the last thing before retiring for bed and the first thing when awakening is check their phones. Text messages are the communication vehicle of choice. The concern about peer opinions is always on their minds. Teenagers are trying to fit into their social groups and pressure is intense. Teen stress is ever present in their lives but handling peer pressure adds another layer on the stress they feel about academics, family and outside activities.
Teens need to choose their friends wisely. Friends who make healthy, safe and positive decisions help motivate your teenager to follow a similar path. But peer pressure becomes more dangerous when friends have a negative influence by making unwise decisions. Your teenager can experience low self-esteem and may experiment with drugs, alcohol, shop lifting, skipping school or unsafe sex just to fit it. Peer pressure is often a cause of cyber-bullying. Watch for sudden changes in behaviour, appearance, or attitude may indicate the patterns of a rebellious teen.
How to say no to peer pressure
When you are in the situation when your peers are putting pressure on you it is hard to say no to friends. Often it is easier to “go along” with someone’s idea than to let people know how you really feel. Peer pressure occurs when other kids your age push you to do something that:
- You don’t want to do
- Makes you uncomfortable
- You know will get you in trouble
- You may feel that if you don’t go along, they will laugh at you or not be your friends.
There are ways to say no to peer pressure that will help you get out of the situation. The trick is to practise these when you’re alone, or with your parents or someone you trust. Then, when you need to use one of these, you will be more comfortable doing so.
Just say no. In some situations, just saying no without a lot of arguing and explaining is the best response. Just make sure your “no” is a strong and determined one.
Give a reason why it’s a bad idea. Say no, and explain why you feel this way. Maybe you can’t go to the party because it is not worth the chance of being grounded. Maybe you don’t want to drink because you know someone who is an alcoholic and you can see how drinking has messed up his/her life.
Make a joke.Humour is a great way to change the topic and the mood. It can take the attention away from you.
Make an excuse why you can’t. Maybe you have something else to do, you have to be somewhere at a specific time, or your mum will kill you. It doesn’t matter what excuse you use, just stick to it.
Suggest a different activity. By thinking of something better to do, you’re offering everyone an “out”. You just might be surprised who might take you up on it.
Ignore the suggestion.Pretend you didn’t hear it, and change the topic to something else. Act like you don’t think the idea was even worth discussing.
Repeat yourself if necessary. Sometimes you’ll be asked over and over again. Stick to your decision, don’t be talked into doing something you don’t want to.
Leave the situation. If you think the others are going to do something you don’t want to be involved in, just leave. You can make up an excuse, or you can say nothing at all. If you lead the way, others may follow.
Thanks, but no thanks.You can be polite, but you still aren’t interested. You can say, “It’s something I’m just not into.”
The power of numbers.Talk to your closest friends about how you feel. Then you can support each other. Agree up front that we will stick together.
Everyone feels stressed during exams. This usually means that you feel tired, under pressure, confused, worried that you won’t do well etc. This is normal and often encourages us to do that extra bit of revision, listen a little more to the information in a lesson and work a bit harder. This is good.
However, too much pressure and anxiety can make you feel really bad. This may mean that you are unable to concentrate on your work and may find that you are overly worrying about how you will do in your exam(s).
People often deal with exam stress in many unhelpful ways, such as ignoring the problem, not revising because they think that they will do badly anyway and missing exams due to the anxiety that they are feeling. It can also be really easy to think that if you don’t try and then you fail, you won’t feel as bad as if you fail after trying really hard! This is an unhelpful way of thinking as it means that you will be limiting your chances of doing really well!!
Exam anxiety can also make you worry during the exam, for example you may feel that other people are managing the exam better than you or that they will be finding it really easy whereas you are struggling. This can cause you to feel that your mind has “gone blank” on information that you know that you have revised or that you know well.
- Do you worry a lot about exams?
- Do you fear that you may fail exams, even though you have revised?
- Do you feel that you are being overwhelmed by the pressure that you feel with exams?
- Does your mind go blank in exams?
If you can answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, it is possible that you are experiencing Exam Stress / Exam Anxiety
Positive steps to reduce stress
Understand your stress.Understanding is the key to controlling, coping and curing. Stress is part of a natural survival response, aimed at making your body stronger, faster and quicker-thinking during moments of threat and danger. Your stress symptoms are natural; it is what prompts them that is wrong.
Create a book of calm.This is a small notebook that travels everywhere with you, in which you write down all your feelings and thoughts when you’re suffering from stress, anger, anxieties or worries
Stop moaning.Does this sound harsh? It should! Although talking a problem over can be therapeutic, constant and fruitless moaning will increase your overall stress levels by ensuring that the problem keeps hurting rather than healing
Eat well.Stress can make us drink, eat and smoke more.
Create structure out of chaos.Regain intellectual control over your life by creating and writing down strategies that will take you through any option in your life, from the best-case to the worst-case scenarios. You might think dwelling on your problems will increase your anxiety levels, but by facing them head-on and quietly planning alternative actions and fall-backs, you will be helping your mind to regain a sense of control.
Build relationships.When stress is prompted by factors that are out of our overall control, it’s easy to take out our suppressed anger and resentment on the wrong targets, the company of friends and family can provide vital support when you see it as a way of having fun and taking your mind off your worries.
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