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Stress is caused when things in life get too much. You might feel pressure about a school exam or a race you have to run in. If you can learn to cope with these pressures, you can ease the stress you feel too.

What is stress?

Stress is a common feeling we get when we feel under pressure. A small amount can be good and motivate as to meet our goals. But too much stress, when it feels out of control, can impact our mood, our wellbeing, our relationships with people around us.

Some people, when they go through long periods of stress, experience 'burnout' - a feeling of complete physical and emotional exhaustion. Luckily, there are ways to stop stress getting out of control.

what is stress?

boy studying

What causes stress?

When your body is under stress it produces hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare the body to take urgent action – also known as fight or flight – and have a number of side-effects.

These side-effects include anxiety, depression, concentration problems, weight gain or loss, dizziness and sleep problems. to make matters worse, these side effects can actually cause more stress. This is why it is important to find ways to cope with stress, so that you deal with it as soon as it comes.

Dealing with stress

When people are under stress they react differently. At times, you may feel like shouting and throwing things, but instead you hide away and stop socialising. Other times, when you may think you cannot cope, you might feel tearful but outwardly appear angry and behave aggressively.

Learning to deal with stress can take a lot of practise but it will worth it in the long-run. Here are some tips to help you out when stress is getting the better of you.

  • Recognise triggers: begin to track times where you have felt stressed and look for patterns in how you reacted. What was happening when you felt stressed? What did you think/feel/do just before you felt stressed?
  • Awareness: once you are aware of difficulties that are likely to make you feel stressed you can take steps to prevent stress or deal with it quickly
  • Self-care: be kind to yourself – stress is a human experience. Try to connect with friends and talk about how you are feeling
  • Exercise, relaxation and meditation: some people find that exercises and activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and deep muscle relaxation are helpful
  • Eat well and sleep: the better rested you are, the more able you are to cope with pressure
  • Talking therapy: if you are finding it difficult to cope, consider meeting with someone trained to help – this might include your GP or talking therapy.

You might like to check out this stress guide, written by young people, to help others through stressful situations. 

Top apps to help with stress

  • Calm: guided meditations and sleep stories to ease stress and improve sleep
  • Headspace: train your mind for a healthier, happier life by reducing daily anxieties and stresses
  • Breathe2Relax: portable stress management tool