Importance of Stress Management
Stress is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you are worried, scared, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Perhaps your parents are fighting at home or you recently lost a loved one. Perhaps you didn’t get the test score you had hoped or you’re in a fight with friends at school. Stress can be triggered by any number of life circumstances. By learning how to manage stress in a healthy, productive way, you can maintain a positive outlook, increase resilience and enhance well-being.
When you perceive a situation as difficult or painful, changes occur in your body to prepare you to respond. This “fight or flight” response can include a faster heart or breathing rate, increased blood to muscles, and/or an upset stomach and sense of dread. Even though stress is uncomfortable, it’s also an important survival tool that can keep you alert and focused, enabling you to deal with a tough situation in the moment that it’s happening.
Unfortunately, if stress persists for long periods of time, it can have lasting negative effects on your health. Chronic or long-term stress can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system, to name a few. With the right tools, you can learn to manage stress before it takes a toll. Fortunately, the same mechanism that turns on the stress response can also turn it off. As soon as you decide that a situation is no longer dangerous, changes occur again in your body to help relax and calm you down. This is also known as the “relaxation response.”
Relaxation looks a little different for everyone. Some teens find it relaxing to sit and pet their dog for a few minutes with no other distractions. Others might try closing their eyes, taking a few deep breaths and sitting in silence. A simple walk alone around the block or prayer can also be helpful. It may take some trial and error to find something that sticks, but a technique that quiets your mind in the heat of the moment will protect your health and peace of mind for years to come.