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Got Stress?

By Vicki L. Dihle
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Develop a skill that will last you a lifetime: managing stress

Stress is normal and can either be healthy or destructive. Good stress motivates us to work hard, rise to a special challenge or save our lives in an emergency. However, bad stress can be overwhelming. A constant low-level stress can leave us feeling exhausted, weaken our immune systems and cause other illnesses such as depression.

Learning to manage stress is a challenging life skill. Be mindful of what works best for you to minimize unnecessary stress, and be responsible in managing your most precious resource, time.

7 Causes of Unhealthy Stress

  1. Busyness

    • Prioritize your commitments by categorizing them into what you have to do compared with what you like to do. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are unique and can do a limited number of things well.
    • Be selective when making commitments. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.
  2. Exhaustion

    • Teenagers need about 10 hours of sleep a night because their bodies are growing and maturing rapidly.
    • Too much stress can make falling or staying asleep difficult. If this describes you, talk to your parents, a health-care provider, a counselor or other trusted adult.
  3. Peer pressure

    • Understand that most teens you hang with are feeling the same pressures. Finding safe people to talk to and share your experiences with can be helpful. Journaling your thoughts and feelings can also be therapeutic.
  4. Unhealthy eating

    • Let’s be honest: Junk food tastes good, and it’s relatively cheap and convenient. But good nutrition helps alleviate stress because you feel better and have more energy. You wouldn’t fill a car’s gas tank with junk and expect it to run normally. Neither should you do that to your body.
  5. Lack of exercise

    • Regular exercise is a proven stress reducer, and it will physically benefit your body, relieve tension, counteract bad stress, help you relax and even help you sleep better. Go for a walk, ride your bike — just start moving!
  6. Perfectionism

    • Work hard to do your best, and be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish. Expecting perfection creates stress for everyone, destroying you and the relationships you care about.
  7. Disorganization

    • Keep all areas of life neat and orderly. Organization takes time and energy, but it will save you from unnecessary stress.

This article appeared in Brio magazine in April 2006. Copyright © 2006 Vicki L. Dihle. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

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