Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Understanding the Different Fees
Estimate of Financial Liability
Pay a Bill
United Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Teens
Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you? Losing sleep worrying about tests and schoolwork? Eating on the run because your schedule is just too busy?
You’re not alone. Everyone feels stressed out at times — adults, teens, and even kids. But you can avoid getting too stressed out by handling everyday pressures and problems, staying calm, asking for help when you need it, and making time to relax.
Stress is a response to pressure or threat. Under stress we may feel tense, nervous, or on edge. The stress response is physical, too. Stress triggers a surge of a hormone called adrenaline that temporarily affects the nervous system. As a result, when you’re nervous or stressed you might feel your heartbeat or breathing get faster, your palms get sweaty, or your knees get shaky.
The stress response is also called the fight-or-flight-response. It’s an automatic response that prepares us to deal with danger.
But a situation doesn’t have to be physically dangerous to activate the stress response. Everyday pressures can activate it, too. For example, you might feel stress before taking a test or a giving class presentation, facing a tough opponent in a sport, or going on stage for a performance.
Even in these situations (which are hardly life-or-death), the stress response activates to help you perform well under pressure. It can help you rise to a challenge and meet it with alertness, focus, and strength. Facing these challenges — rather than backing away from them — is a part of learning and growing.
When the challenge is over, the stress response lets up. You can relax and recharge, and be ready for a new challenge.
Stress doesn’t always happen in response to things that are immediate and over with quickly. Ongoing or long-term events, like coping with a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can cause stress, too.
Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting, low-level stress that can leave a person feeling tired or overwhelmed. Finding ways to cope with the difficult situation can prevent this from happening, and ease stress that’s been lasting. Sometimes, people need help to deal with difficult situations that lead to intense or lasting stress.
Here are some things that can help keep stress under control:
Take a stand against overscheduling. If you’re feeling stretched, consider cutting out an activity or two, choosing just the ones that are most important to you.
Be realistic. Don’t try to be perfect — no one is. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you need help with something like schoolwork or dealing with a loss, ask for it.
Get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. Because the biological “sleep clock” shifts during adolescence, many teens prefer staying up a little later at night and sleeping a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still need to get up early for school, you may not get all the hours of sleep you need.
Make time for fun. Build time into your schedule for activities you enjoy — read a good book, play with your pet, laugh, do a hobby, make art or music, spend time with positive people, or be in nature.
Treat your body well. Get regular exercise and eat well to help your body function at its best. When you’re stressed out, it’s easy to eat on the run or eat junk food. But under stressful conditions, you need good nutrition more than ever.
Find the upside. Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances — and even recognize something you’ve learned from the situation.
Solve the little problems. Take action to solve problems that crop up. For example, if you’re stressed out over homework, size up the situation and figure out ways to handle it better.
You can do things to handle the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Stress-management skills work best when they’re practiced ahead of time, not just when the pressure’s on. Knowing how to “de-stress” and calm yourself can help you get through challenging circumstances.
Serious stress can come from dealing with a personal crisis, a disaster, a health crisis, or a mental health condition that feels out of control. Here’s what to do when stress gets really serious.
Winning is all that matters when you play sports, right? Not when that means you can’t even enjoy the game. Read about how to handle sports pressure and competition.
Negative emotions are impossible to avoid and everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but they don’t have to be stressful. Find out how to deal with stressful feelings.
Anxiety is a natural part of life, and most of us experience it from time to time. But for some people, anxiety can be extreme.
Sometimes after experiencing a traumatic event, a person has a strong and lingering reaction known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Getting treatment and support can make all the difference.
Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.
If you need mental health care but don’t think you can afford it, you’re not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.
How well we get through a stressful situation depends a lot on us. It’s how we deal with that makes all the difference. Here are some ways to understand and manage stress.
It can be hard to understand, but people who cut themselves sometimes do it because it actually makes them feel better. They are overflowing with emotions – like sadness, depression, or anger – that they have trouble expressing.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.