Many people view stress as something that an adult with a busy job and lots of demands may experience but in reality we all experience stress. Feeling stressed is normal and for young people the exam period can be especially stressful. Stress can affect people in different ways, some find it motivates you to do work but others may feel overwhelmed and unable to concentrate. It is important that we are aware of our stress levels and what pressures we feel under. Stress can be helpful but when we feel continually stressed or unable to cope, then it can be an issue.
Stress can be helpful?
A short term bout of stress can be helpful and can bene
fit your brain and body. Stress can build your immune system and improve how your heart works. Being able to deal with stress will mean t￼hat future stressful situations are easier to handle. Stress can push you to get work done and with deadlines looming it may be just what you need to get it finished. It is important to view stressful situations as challenges you can achieve rather than something you can’t do. This short term stress can help to push you through the exam period and do your best! You may have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response, your blood pressure and heart rate increases. It can help us to avoid stressful situations such as moving out the way of a car.
But isn’t stress bad for you ?
When stress carries on for weeks or months it can be harmful. It can weaken your immune system, cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression and anxiety. This means it is important to spot when you have too much stress so you can talk to someone for help. It can be a fine line between good stress and bad stress and it is different for everybody.
Warning signs of too much stress!
- Unable to concentrate or complete tasks
- Being ill more often
- Feeling aches
- Other illness flare up
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Eating more or less than usual
- Becoming more angry or anxious than usual
- Racing thoughts
- Trouble remembering things
But what can I do?
Whilst there are times in life that you will be stressed, you can improve how you deal with it or identify what triggers your stress. Sometimes it can be avoided.
- Your stress triggers may be places, situations or people. Have a think about what causes your stress and what realistic solutions there are. If giving presentations causes you stress it would be good to research early and practice what you are going to say. Some friends may cause you to feel more stressed so it may be a good idea to avoid them if you are already feeling tense. An example of this may be just before an exam, standing with a friend that is working you up about the exam might not be a good idea, taking a few minutes to yourself, having a few deep breaths before going in or talking to someone positive may help calm your nerves.
- Exercise is great for reducing stress hormones and improving mood. Find activities that you like and try to do them for 30 minutes each day. It can be a great distraction from other things and make you feel good about yourself.
- Relax! Find what relaxes you. It might be listening to music, playing football with friends, drawing or baking. Take a break from your daily life and try relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises and meditation, you will be surprised at how much these can help. Feeling stressed can take its toll and tire you out so make sure you take a relaxation break every day.
- Manage your time. Use your free time wisely to get important tasks done first otherwise you are likely to put these off. Write a list of everything you need to get done and then you can break it down further and prioritise what needs to be done. For example, Science GCSE revision is a big task. Break it down to biology, physics and chemistry. You can then break this down further by looking at the topics and write them as a list. Now you have a clearer list of things to cover. You may notice topics where you need help from your teacher or could pick topics from each science to be covered in a week.
- Make sure you are being realistic, this can cause a lot of people stress. Try not to take on too many activities when it comes to stressful times like exams. You will need time to relax in your spare time so you don’t want to fill it with other commitments and feel like you have too much to do.
- Eating and sleeping well are so important. The more we look after ourselves the more able we are to cope and function.
The best thing you can do if you are feeling stressed is talk to someone, such as friends, family, or a teacher. Rather than leave it and feel like things are getting too much it is important to share how you are feeling. Others may have ways to help you or can just be there for you during stressful times. Stress can have some nasty side effects as we have found out so don’t suffer in silence.
Written By Miss Adlam