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Feeling stressed

A girl sitting at a computer looking stressed.Schoolwork, chores, dating dramas, fights with friends, and more — so many things can stress you out! But what exactly is stress, and how can you handle it? Keep reading to learn more.

What is stress? arrow. top

Stress is what you feel when you react to pressure. The pressure can come from events in your life, from other people, or even from yourself. Things that cause stress are called stressors.

What are ways to handle stress? arrow. top

You can do lots to deal with stress. Click through our slideshow below for more info.

 Adapted from BAM! Body and Mind

What causes stress? arrow. top

Different people are stressed by different things. For example, you might get very stressed about a test, but your friend might feel fine. Your sister might think moving is terrifying, but you may think it's exciting. There are no right or wrong things to stress over.

Some things that might cause stress include:

  • Schoolwork
  • Changes in your body or weight
  • Problems with friends or other relationships
  • Being bullied
  • Living in a dangerous neighborhood
  • Peer pressure to dress or act a certain way, or to smoke, drink, or use drugs
  • Feeling like you don't fit in
  • Desire to please your parents or other important adults
  • Sick family member
  • Changing schools
  • Conflict at home
  • Taking on too many activities at once

Of course, other things may cause stress for you that are not listed above. Even fun things, like starring in the school play or starting to date, can get you stressed.

Some things that cause stress are the same things that cause grief. These include things like your parents getting divorced or the death of someone you love. Read more about grief and how you can handle it better.

Sometimes, people have a lot of stress because of money worries. If your family is having money problems, you can look together at a website about ways to cope during tough financial times.

Is stress always bad? arrow. top

A little bit of stress can help you. During a sports competition, stress might push you to perform better, for example. Also, the stress of deadlines can get you to finish work on time.

A lot of stress or stress that lasts a long time can hurt you. It can cause problems for your physical and emotional health, like stomach aches, sleep problems, and trouble concentrating.

If your stress is getting to be too much, take steps to tackle it. Check out our tips on how to handle stress. Also, turn to a parent or another adult you trust for advice and support.

Don't try to lower your stress in unhealthy ways. Things like taking drugs, drinking, cutting back on your sleep, or eating a lot or very little will only cause more problems. Treat yourself with the respect you deserve.

What are signs of being stressed out? arrow. top

In a recent survey, 1 out of 3 teens said their stress went up during the past year. 1 out of 10 teens said they never set aside time to manage stress. And during the school year, teens report more stress than adults. If you want to do better — and feel better — try some stress-busting tips.

Sometimes, stress just comes and goes. But if you are facing a lot of pressure or problems, you may start to feel like you're often too stressed out.

Signs that you are getting too stressed may include:

  • Feeling down or tired
  • Feeling angry or edgy
  • Feeling sad or worried
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Having headaches or stomach aches
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Laughing or crying for no reason
  • Wanting to be alone a lot
  • Having tense muscles
  • Not being able to see the positive side of a situation
  • Not enjoying activities that you used to enjoy
  • Feeling like you have too many things you have to do

Some of these signs can also be signs of depression, which needs treatment. Learn more about depression and how to get help.

How does my body act when stressed? arrow. top

Your body has a built-in response to stressors. Your palms may sweat, your mouth may get dry, and your stomach may twist. This is all normal! Of course, stress doesn't feel very good. When your body is hit by stress, try to calm it down. Taking some deep breaths can help. You also can try yoga, going for a walk, or some other physical activity.

Can stress lead to more serious problems? arrow. top

Stress that's too much for you to handle may play a role in some serious problems. These problems include eating disorders, hurting yourself, depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, and even suicide. If you are facing any of these problems, talk to an adult you trust right away! You also can get support by phone, text, chat, or email from a special helpline for teens.


Content last reviewed January 07, 2015
Page last updated April 01, 2015