In weeks 2 and 3 we will look at how behaviour and thinking can cause you to feel stressed; and in week 4 we will look at problem solving skills that can help you to cope with stress.
To start though, it would be good to think about how you feel your life is for you at the moment. The exercise below will help you do that.
You can write your thoughts in the notepad below.
You can write your thoughts in the notepad below.
You are about to perform in a school performance
You feel your body tense up but this makes you work harder and perform better
This is a helpful response
By stepping back and becoming more curious about what is happening in both our bodies and our minds, we can start to identify when we are starting to feel stressed and come up with ways to tackle this.
When we are feeling stressed we can sometimes tell where exactly we feel it in our bodies. People often say that they feel like they have butterflies in their tummy, feel out of breath, need to go to the loo and feel tense.
Humans respond to stress in the same way as animals. Think of a leopard padding along quietly.
You may have felt a similar way when you have been stressed. This is a completely normal stress response and is known as FIGHT OR FLIGHT. As well as running away, sometimes when you’re extremely stressed you can freeze. This is called the adrenaline response.
The FIGHT OR FLIGHT response can also happen because of a psychological threat. The way we make sense of what is happening around us guides how we react. We may be sitting at home worrying about a class test or an argument we had with a friend in the playground earlier that day.
When we are sitting at home we are no longer in the playground or doing the class test but we may still feel stressed because we are thinking about it. This is unhelpful, as there is no physical threat at that moment when you sitting at home in your chair.
There are many things in our lives that can cause us stress. When stressful things happen to us we learn how to deal with them and develop coping skills. Some of these skills can be helpful, others can be unhelpful.
Often when we learn an unhelpful coping skill it will stay with us until we challenge it and come up with new and better ways of coping.
Click the dots to add a thought on each line.
The earlier example of avoiding flying highlights how stress can lead us to avoid things that we find scary or worrying
trying to finish your homework in time or being able to concentrate in school. When we are feeling very stressed our fight or flight response can kick in and this can make it very difficult for us to concentrate, speak clearly and to stay focused.
Sometimes when we are feeling stressed we recognize that our body is feeling tense but we are unable to determine why. This can sometimes cause us to imagine the worst e.g. "I'm having a heart attack". The more we can recognize that this is a normal response when we are feeling very stressed, the less likely we are to worry about it when it happens.
The longer we feel stressed the more likely we are to begin to avoid the situation or people that we think make us feel this way.
The Way Our Body Works
The Way We Behave
The Way We Think
The Way We Feel
By understanding how stress affects us, we can learn to recognise the signs and try to deal with them before feeling overwhelmed. Start to be curious about what makes you tick without judging yourself.
How you behave in situations
How you feel about situations
What you think of situations and
What your body does in situations
When we are stressed our bodies can become stiff and ready for action (fight or flight), or we can feel slowed down and struggle to get through the day. The more we can recognise these feelings the sooner we can respond in a more helpful manner. Typical symptoms of stress include:
Click and drag on the puzzle to match words on the list
If we notice these feelings quickly we can do something to make ourselves feel better. When you feel stressed, how do you feel?
Complete the following jigsaw to see some of the ways in which we respond to stress.
What thoughts go through your mind when you are feeling stressed?
This cycle shows how our thinking, behavior, feelings and how our body feels are all linked. The more we experience a stressful situation, the stronger this cycle gets. These workshops will help you learn new ways to break this cycle and feel less stressed.
Not the most extremely stressful situation you have experienced -- just one where you felt a little stress.
The way we feel physically, affects how well we cope with stress. Quite often when we are stressed we can forget to eat, or eat a lot of unhealthy junk food.
Avoid drinks which are high in sugar or caffeine
Eat five fruit and vegetables a day
Drink lots of water
Have breakfast, lunch and dinner or healthy snacks and do not miss out on breakfast
It is a fact that exercise improves our mood by working off tension and boredom. Scheduling time for exercise you are making time for yourself and it can be a way of:
Making new friends
Finding new hobbies
Helping your body feel less tense which helps you to sleep better
Too much or too little sleep affects how we feel when we wake up and how we feel throughout the day. We all need different amounts of sleep and have different ways of helping ourselves to fall asleep. When you are stressed you might find it hard to fall asleep or you might wake up suddenly during the night.
Look out for the early warning signs of over-breathing:
When we have too much air in our lungs it can actually feel as though we can’t get a breath in when in fact the opposite is true. Use these First Steps to keep it under control:
When we recognize that we are stressed e.g. we notice our body is feeling tense or we are thinking unhelpful thoughts that make us feel worried, we can then take some time to relax to make ourselves feel better and break the cycle of stress.
Take a few minutes to think about the ways you relax at the moment. If you don’t take time to relax, think about what stops you from taking time out and how you could create "me" time?
Write some of these thoughts in the boxes below:
|Internal Barriers||How they could be overcome||External Barriers||How they could be overcome|
Speaking to others can help make you feel better and help us come up with better ways to make ourselves making ourselves feel less stressed.
Make a note of the people who are around you and think about what support is available to you.
Who is around you?
Who can you talk to?
Who can you get emotional / practical help from?
How can others tell how you're feeling?
Who else could you look to for support beyond the current support?
If you have answered nobody to the above questions then please consider the list of resources in the contacts section