small engineer

These days, it is expected for kids, especially those in high school and college, to be firing on all cylinders, all day every day. Between school work, sports, jobs, extracurricular activities, social engagements, and familial responsibilities, many kids are  at a constant level of stress. But how do we know what is normal stress and what is something more serious, like anxiety?

“Ugh, I forgot to eat tonight.”

“No thanks I’m not hungry.”

Classes, labs, club meetings, sports, and events pile up fast, and its common for students to find themselves booked straight through dinnertime, arriving home late at night once the hunger has passed. This is perfectly normal for a student to experience. My suggestion? Keep a granola bar in your bag so you have something to munch on as you run from one meeting to the next. Try one with protein to help you feel full.

Loss of appetite is an indicator of depression. If you find you have no appetite or will to eat, or nothing looks appetizing to you, this may be a sign of a deeper issue than just stress.

External vs. Internal Causes

Most stress is caused by external causes. Whether it be a big exam coming up, an important try-out, or a difficult situation at work, it is totally normal to feel stress related to these outside causes. The problem arises when these external causes are resolved, yet the stress and worry persists.  If you are feeling intense stress and there are no clear external causes, this could be an indicator of anxiety.

Waves

Normal stress comes in waves. For some, it may be stress Monday through Friday and then relief on the weekends. Others may feel an increased wave of stress during difficult times like final exams or an interview period. The important thing is that there is always a period of relief that follows, no matter how brief. Living in a constant state of stress for weeks on end with no days or even hours of relaxation is an indicator of an anxiety disorder.

So I’m Just Stressed: What Do I Do?

Good news all around! It’s not uncommon to be stressed, and there are plenty of ways to help ease the pressure you’re feeling. Here are some ways to de-stress.

  • Chamomile tea- It’s great for stress since it promotes sleep and relaxation; try a cup before bed for a great night’s sleep!
  • Lavender scented anything- Lavender is known for it’s de-stressing ability, so pick up some essential oils or a candle to light as you study!
  • Healthy snacks- Snicker’s got it right, you’re not you when you’re hungry. Try a handful of almonds, hummus and veggies, or fruit with peanut butter to keep your mood bright and your body alert!

It Might Be More…

If you can relate to one or more of the above scenarios where it might be more than stress, that’s okay too. Regarding mental health, we need to delete the stigma surrounding disorders like anxiety and depression. Contact your doctor or look into mental health screenings offered at local health clinics. If you are dealing with something more serious, it is most important to get help.  Visit  https://mentalhealthscreening.org for a free online screening to get started.

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