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What is Stress?

Day to day we all have demands placed upon us. Generally we manage these demands quite well, however sometimes we no longer find it easy to cope. This is when our bodies let us know we are stressed. Stress is our bodies response to situations we find difficult or tough. Our bodies release chemicals which give us energy and strength.

A little stress can be good for you:
Competing in sports
Finishing an important assignment
Running from danger
Preparing for an interview

A lot of stress/prolonged stress can be bad for you
Constant worrying
Work overload
Always thinking the worse
Feeling hurried/pressured

It is important to identify and deal with stress quickly so it does not become damaging to your life and the lives of those around you.

What Causes Stress?

Everybody is different and different things will cause stress for different people. Here are a few causes of stress that people have identified:

Changing life circumstances

Symptoms of Stress

Remember you are not alone. Everybody will experience stress at some point in their lives. Here are some warning signals to look out for which may indicate your stress
levels are becoming unmanageable:

Dry mouth
Frequent crying
Loss of appetite
Feeling overwhelmed
Drinking to much
Drug taking
Rushing around

Coping with Stress

Exercising is a good way to release all that excess energy and strength. Twenty minutes of walking, running or swimming will help to reduce stress levels.

Talking to someone often helps to identify the stressor. With the help of another person you can formulate plans to reduce the amount of stress you are experiencing.

Often sleep is disrupted when we feel stressed. To ensure a good nights sleep try a relaxing bath and a hot drink before bed. Stop any strenuous activity at least one hour before bed.

Change Thought Patterns
Sometimes stress leads us to get caught up in a cycle of negative thinking. Everything seems black and what will go wrong does go wrong. Try to identify your patterns of negative thinking. Try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and what is going right.

Breathing Techniques
A quick and effective way to help reduce stress is to focus on your breathing. Breath in through your nose counting to five and exhale through your mouth focussing on each breath. Repeat this pattern.

Healthy Eating
A healthy diet will help combat the effects of stress such as dehydration and tiredness. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and give the coffee and junk food a break.


Tips For Coping With Stress
Next time you are feeling stressed, try one of these stress busters to see if it can make a difference. There are plenty of workshops, podcasts and short films online to show you how. Remember, different things work for different people so if one tip doesn't work, try another.

1.Understand Your Stress
• Complete the worksheets in this pack to help you understand your own triggers.
• Consider keeping a diary or making a note on your phone of the things that cause you stress and feelings of anxiety.

2. look after your body
• Go outside for your daily exercise allowance and spend time walking, jogging or running.
• Find ways to exercise at home, everything from following an online exercise class to putting on your music and dancing around the living room counts.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Eat healthy food and limit the number of sweet or salty snacks you have each day.
• Get enough sleep.
• Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances.

3.Keep In Touch
• Talk to friends and family outside of the household you are isolating in.
• Be honest about how you’re feeling
• Ask for help if you need it.
• Make some plans to look forward to when self-isolation ends. You may not be able to set a date but you can certainly share ideas about how to celebrate seeing each other again.

4.Look After Your Mind
• Be kind to yourself; treat yourself as you would a good friend that isgoing through a difficult time.
• Solve problems one at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
• Practice mindfulness.
• Try not to worry about the things you can’t control.
• Work to resolve conflicts without anger and losing your temper.
• Challenge anxious thoughts.
• Learn to meditate.
• Write a lyric or poem to express your feelings.

Resource taken from:
Staying Well At Home, Coping With Anxiety and Stress, A Free Work Book For Young People 11-19 Year Olds.
 National Youth Agency.

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