Recognizing and Dealing with Stress and Anxiety!

By Nissim Hayes, Youth Mentor

Life constantly comes with its stressors and anxiety inducing problems and the current state of the world certainly does not help! It’s important to figure out what triggers us as an individual and know what situations negative emotions will manifest themselves in, a task that will never get easier with age, only with practice. Life during the pandemic has definitely spurred new and unique micro-aggressions, whether it’s from family, friends, and school. Understanding that our emotions can be guided and assuaged by various coping strategies and other techniques can be the difference between turning a bad situation worse or turning a bad situation into a more manageable one.

Stress and anxiety is a common experience, with over 70% adults in the United States reporting they have dealt with it daily. However, stress is not something only experienced by the older population, your experience as a youth can definitely have your own significantly anxiety inducing situations. Signs of stress can be easily overlooked but must be acknowledged so they can be handled safely. If you feel a sense of fatigue, irritation, lack of motivation and focus, unusual eating habits, or drug and alcohol abuse, it might be prudent to take a step back and take a look at your emotional balance. Usual suspicious symptoms also revolve around sleeping problems, an upset stomach, muscle tension, and withdrawing from people socially. There are numerous ways that stress and anxiety make themselves comfortable in your body and behaviors and only you can say if these behaviors are intentional or not!

If you find yourself experiencing one or multiple signs of stress, don’t worry there are several ways to handle them! There are surprisingly simple ways to ease your emotional state, like chewing gum, which promotes blood flow to the brain, or lighting candles, which is a quick entrance into the realm of aromatherapy. Sometimes the simplest thing are the hardest to produce but the most effective, like laughter! Laughter eases your body tensions and is great for your immune system so spend time doing things that tickle your humor. 

There’s more intentional strategies that take some more self-control but are equally effective. Stepping back and taking a moment away from the problem may be all you need to readjust your emotional balance. Take some time to count to 10, take deep breaths, and reassess. Maybe even do it twice! Eating well balanced meals is very important because who hasn’t had a hard day when they haven’t had enough to eat? Grabbing a snack every four hours just to ensure there is something in your stomach can go a long way in boosting your mood. Exercise and good sleeping habits are the strongest fighters of stress and anxiety but they must be planned for in advance!

However, the most widely touted victor of stress is talking to someone! Having someone to use as a sounding board and help you figure out the decisions you want to make regarding them can be the best solution. If you feel like talking to someone may be your best bet, look into turning towards the Youth Mentor Program to see if your needs can be supported with those willing to listen and provide the necessary resources! The Youth Mentor Support Program is dedicated to partnering mentors with youth, ages 11 to 17 that are dealing with some form of opioid distress and creating a relationship that supports healthy decision making and coping strategies. A good support network goes a long way in healthy living and Prevention Is Key is eager to facilitate that!