How stress works
Did you know?! Stress is actually a normal and necessary part of being human!Back in the caveman days, our brain developed in a way that helped us to keep safe from danger. So if we started getting chased by a bear, our brain would release chemicals that would help us to fight the bear off, run away from the bear or freeze so the bear wouldn’t see us. This was known as the “Fight, Flight, Freeze” response. Today, our brains still respond to stressful events in the same way and this can get in the way of living our lives unless we help release those FFF chemicals.
Feeling stressed is often seen as just a really negative thing, but in the same way as it helped cavemen keep safe from bears, it is also helpful to us. It can help us feel focused during a stressful event, keep us motivated, give us energy to keep going when the times are tough, prepares our bodies to rise to challenges!
However, feeling stressed can have a negative impact on our lives when it isn’t given an outlet. When something stressful happens and all those chemicals that are released that make us want to fight, flight or freeze and we don’t do anything to manage those chemicals, then being stressed can make us feel tired, run down, grumpy, irritable, clumsy, shaky, low, cloud our mind and even make us physically sick.
How to manage stress
Whether something big happens or whether everyday things are just stressing you out, there are things you can do to make stress work for you so that you don’t get too overwhelmed by it…
Take a break - everyone needs some time to just chill out and relax – whether that’s having a sleep-in, reading a book or magazine, watching a movie or going for a walk on the beach, make sure you schedule in one relaxing thing to do every single day – even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Check out the list of chill out ideas at the bottom of this page!
Plan your tasks - if you are feeling stressed out because you have lots of homework, plus rugby after work, plus that job that you do twice a week and on the weekends… then make sure you plan your week so that you fit all these things in, but also make sure you schedule in some down time. If there is no time to just relax in your schedule then maybe consider dropping one of your commitments. This may seem like a big step, but it’s much better than burning out completely!
Chill out with friends - sometimes all you need to de-stress is a couple of hours out with your mates. Talk with them about stuff that’s going on in your life, and most importantly, have a good laugh. It is surprising how much having a laugh can help to relieve some stress!
Exercise - Going out for a run or a walk, and getting out in the fresh air to clear your head is often a great way to ease stress and any other unwanted feelings you might be having.
Don’t sweat the small stuff – try not to worry about stuff that’s out of your control. When things don’t happen the way you expected, or all of a sudden there’s a challenge you have to overcome, keep your head held high and your feet firmly on the ground and just keep on walking in the right direction and you will get there one day at a time. The minute our minds start to panic about what will happen next or what could’ve/should’ve/would’ve happened is when we get stuck. Don’t be too hard on yourself when these things happen and do your best to let it go!
Dealing with stress
Here’s some ideas for relaxing and coping with stress.