Stress: Wearing a little thin

Before it gets too bad, talk to someone

Before it gets too bad, talk to someone

October 01, 2002|by Jessica Hanlin

Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten. Right?

I thought I had it all figured out. Imagine my amazement at how much I had learned in just the past few weeks, this late in my life.

For example:

There is no way to cram more than 24 hours into a day

Parents get really annoyed about you rolling home precisely one minute before curfew, and

NEVER try to maneuver your car while yelling at your brother in the backseat.

However, one of the most important lessons that I have learned is how to prioritize everything. Between school, homework, sports, church, work, and friends, it's pretty much nonstop from the moment my eyes open (eventually) in the morning until the time I pass out at night (not counting the occasional mid-class nap).

The thing is, I'm not alone. Many teenagers have similarly crazy schedules. And such chaos really doesn't help during our already exhilarating, angst-filled adolescence. We get stressed out.


Stress ranges from that fluttering in your stomach, to muscle fatigue, to straight-up uncontrollable crying or laughing. We're on emotional roller coasters, changing our moods with a snap of the fingers.

But beyond the surface, stress has the power to destroy you. High stress for long periods of time can lead to ulcers, high blood pressure, asthma, and thyroid problems - which can lead to massive weight loss or gain.

But if stress is unavoidable, doesn't our downfall seem inevitable? Maybe, if we don't learn to manage our stressors.

The motherlode of all tips is to prioritize. What is more important? What needs to be done right now? I know I see it as a challenge when people tell me I can't handle another activity, but it's essential that you have a grip on everything first, before you start a new project.

Beyond organizing your schedule, what more can you do? I always try to take time out to just not think. My favorite tactic is to simply take five or 10 minutes and play a mindless computer game. Point and click. No thinking. Total relaxation.

"I used to smoke, but now I run when I get upset. It's healthier for you," says North Hagerstown High School Junior Chrissy.

Two very good points. Try exercising. Not only will you enjoy the relaxing effects, but you will also see improvements on other aspects of your mood and health. But whatever you do, the most common advice is to stay away from alcohol and drugs. They play a major role in stress, both immediately and long term.

Don't let even the mention of the s-word get you down. Not all stress is bad for you. In fact, some stress is healthy. It keeps you on your toes and ready for action. Also, it prepares you for future obstacles and how to tackle them.

Without stress, life would simply seem too easy - we would have nothing to strive for. However, if you feel depressed, or if things are just too out of control, talk to someone - anyone.

This information may not be new to anyone, but sometimes we need a reminder. I know I do. So here you have it: Think healthy, think fun. And don't let your brother stress you out while you're driving.

For someone to talk to, call the National Youth Crisis Hotline,


Jessica Hanlin is a junior at North Hagerstown High School.

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