Have you ever felt sick to your stomach during a test? Have you had days when you were so loaded down with homework that you had trouble sleeping? Have you ever been so worried about something that you ended up with a terrible headache?
If so, then you know what it's like to feel stress. You've probably heard people say, "Wow, I'm really stressed out" or "This is making me totally stressed." Maybe you hear adults say those kinds of things all the time. But kids have lots of things going on in their lives that can cause stress, too.
What Is Stress?
Stress is what you feel when you are worried or uncomfortable about something. This worry in your mind can make your body feel bad. You may feel angry, frustrated, scared, or afraid — which can give you a stomachache or a headache.
When you're stressed you may not feel like sleeping or eating, or you might sleep or eat too much. You also may feel cranky or have trouble paying attention at school and remembering things at home.
What Causes Stress?
Plenty of things can cause stress in a kid's life, and there are such things as good stress and bad stress. Good or normal stress might show up when you're called on in class or when you have to give a report. Have you ever gotten butterflies in your stomach or sweaty hands? Those can be signs of good stress — the kind of stress that can help you to get things done. For example, you may do a better job on your book report if the anxiety inspires you to prepare well before you have to read it to the class.
But bad stress can happen if the stressful feelings keep going over time. You may not feel well if your parents are fighting, if a family member is sick, if you're having problems at school, or if you're going through anything else that makes you upset every day. That kind of stress isn't going to help you, and it can actually make you sick.
Once you recognize that you're feeling stressed, there are several things you can do. You can try talking about what's bothering you with an adult you trust, like a parent or teacher. Bring up what's been on your mind and how it makes you feel. An adult may have ideas about how to solve whatever is worrying you or making you uncomfortable.
Are You Too Busy?
If you're feeling tired and stressed because you have too much going on, like lots of after-school activities, you might feel better if you drop something, even if it's just for a semester or so. Sometimes lots of activities — even if they're all fun — can make you feel stressed by keeping you busy all the time. On the other hand, if problems at home are bugging you, some (but not too many!) after-school activities may actually help you relax and feel better.
Getting enough sleep and eating healthy food are two great ways to help handle stress.
You also can use relaxation exercises to get rid of stress. The easiest one to do is to inhale (breathe in) slowly and deeply through your nose, and then exhale (breathe out) slowly through your mouth. Do this two to four times, but don't take in too much air too quickly because it can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy.
You can do exercises like this anytime, without anyone noticing. You can even do breathing exercises in class if you're nervous before a test.
Finding a Balance
The best way to keep stress away is to have a balanced life. That means making good decisions about how to spend your time. If you're only dealing with school stuff and have no time to play, you can get stressed. Make sure you keep your SELF in mind: Sleep, Exercise, Leisure (something fun), and Food.
If you take care of yourself and get enough sleep and food, and if you exercise and leave time for fun stuff, you'll probably be less stressed out!Back to Articles
Relax & Unwind Center
When life throws problems your way, learn how to stay calm, de-stress, and solve problems.Read More
Worry Less in 3 Steps
Everyone worries, but would you like to worry less? Find out more in this article for kids.Read More
Yoga for Lowering Stress
Yoga uses calming breathing and feel-good stretches to relax you. Find out more and give it a try.Read More
Five Steps for Fighting Stress
Everybody gets stressed from time to time. This article for kids has some tips for you to try the next time you're stressed.Read More
Talking About Your Feelings
Noticing your feelings and saying how you feel can help you feel better. This article for kids has ideas on how to practice talking about feelings and emotions.Read More
Going to a Therapist
What's it like to go to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist? Find out in this article for kids.Read More
When Somebody Dies
It's difficult, even for grownups, to understand why death must happen. It may be the hardest thing of all to understand. We'll try to help you understand a little bit more in this article for kids.Read More
Why Am I So Sad?
Feeling down? Got the blues? Everyone feels sad sometimes. Find out more in this article for kids.Read More
Have you ever been afraid? Everyone gets scared sometimes. Find out more about fear in this article for kids.Read More
What to Do if You Don't Like School
Everyone has a bad day at school once in a while, but some kids really don't like school. Read this article for kids to find out more.Read More