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Stress


Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you? Losing sleep worrying about tests and schoolwork? Eating on the run because your schedule is just too busy?

You're not alone. Everyone feels stressed out at times — adults, teens, and even kids. But you can avoid getting too stressed out by handling everyday pressures and problems, staying calm, asking for help when you need it, and making time to relax.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a response to pressure or threat. Under stress we may feel tense, nervous, or on edge. The stress response is physical, too. Stress triggers a surge of a hormone called adrenaline that temporarily affects the nervous system. As a result, when you're nervous or stressed you might feel your heartbeat or breathing get faster, your palms get sweaty, or your knees get shaky.

The stress response is also called the fight-or-flight-response. It's an automatic response that prepares us to deal with danger.

 

But a situation doesn't have to be physically dangerous to activate the stress response. Everyday pressures can activate it, too. For example, you might feel stress before taking a test or a giving class presentation, facing a tough opponent in a sport, or going on stage for a performance.

Even in these situations (which are hardly life-or-death), the stress response activates to help you perform well under pressure. It can help you rise to a challenge and meet it with alertness, focus, and strength. Facing these challenges — rather than backing away from them — is a part of learning and growing. 

When the challenge is over, the stress response lets up. You can relax and recharge, and be ready for a new challenge. 

When Stress Doesn't Ease Up

Stress doesn't always happen in response to things that are immediate and over with quickly. Ongoing or long-term events, like coping with a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can cause stress, too. 

Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting, low-level stress that can leave a person feeling tired or overwhelmed. Finding ways to cope with the difficult situation can prevent this from happening, and ease stress that's been lasting. Sometimes, people need help to deal with difficult situations that lead to intense or lasting stress. 

Keep Stress Under Control

Here are some things that can help keep stress under control:

You can do things to handle the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Stress-management skills work best when they're practiced ahead of time, not just when the pressure's on. Knowing how to "de-stress" and calm yourself can help you get through challenging circumstances.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2017


Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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