by Katie Hawkins
What is Stress?
From a psychological perspective, stress is a response to encountering a threat (or stressor) that we do not feel prepared for. You may feel stress when preparing for exams or put into a difficult situation or even just having a lot on your plate.
When your body is stressed a small region in your brain called the ‘hypothalamus’ stimulates the body to produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This helps you with any pressure you are dealing with and is called the ‘fight or flight’ response. Whilst stress can have positive effects, it can also lead to anger, anxiety, and even depression, so it is really important to know how to cope with stress.
It’s been reported that stress is most common in teens, with the highest source being school and exams. Fortunately, there is a range of ways to deal with it. Keeping fit and healthy has been proven to lower stress levels, so although the occasional chocolate bar won’t hurt, we should keep in mind what foods are actually benefiting our bodies! Exercising by ourselves or with friends will also help us to avoid high levels of stress by giving us endorphins (chemicals released to keep us happy), and the school provides a range of sports activities and clubs to keep us active.
Another important factor is sleep; this is key for our emotional and physical well-being. Teenagers should have about eight to ten hours of sleep every night, meaning it is much more beneficial for your learning to go to bed instead of late night revising, as it will increase concentration and reduce stress. The night before an exam it is more important to sleep for a full night and revise in the morning rather than cram the night before.
One of the most enjoyable ways to deal with stress is to have more happiness and positivity surrounding you. And yes, it is important to do homework and revision but it’s also healthy to spend time doing things you enjoy. Having time for hobbies or even spending time with friends can really help combat tension and as well as this, being able to say no to things that will make you more stressed, keeping positive and avoiding toxic people in your life will ensure you feel more relaxed.
Finally, It’s beneficial to talk to others about your worries and problems. Even if it’s tempting to bottle up our feelings, it’s much better to share our issues with our friends, parents or careers, an adult you trust or professionals. We all have stressful situations in our lives so it’s good to support each other as well as get support for ourselves. Keeping happy, healthy and relaxed will help us to keep our stress levels as low as possible and allow us to perform our best in and out of school.
Note: If you are feeling seriously stressed, anxious or depressed, please talk to adults or get professional help and visit websites such as Childline (which you can call for free at 0800 1111), Kooth or Young Minds UK for further support.