Monthly Archives: April 2012
As part of Stress Awareness Month, it is important not to overlook one population that is particularly in need of tools to cope with stress, teens. Teens today face more and more stress than generations before. These stressors include:
- Academic success
- Cyber bullying
- Body image
- Peer relationships
- Parental separation/divorce
- Sense of self or self-esteem
- Identity formation
Many of these challenges are similar to what adults face, and just like adults, stress can affect a teen’s happiness, health and overall sense of well-being.
When teens run into stress they typically:
A) Don’t know how to identify that they are stressed and B) don’t know how to cope with the stress they’re feeling.
We are using mindfulness to help adults tackle these challenges, among others; however, these tools aren’t as readily available for teens as they are adults. Not only do you not have to be a monk on top of a mountain to practice mindfulness, but you also don’t have to be an adult. Mindfulness is for everyone. And why wouldn’t we want to help teens access their inner resources for awareness and self-control? Read the rest of this entry
It is no coincidence that National Stress Awareness Month happens to be during tax month. Nevertheless, stress is not necessarily all bad; it is the thing that often motivates us, helps us meet deadlines, sharpens our attention and keeps us out of danger. Many of us face stress in our daily routine and are accustomed to functioning with a high level of stress. While we may be managing and functioning in this state, I’d like to take this month of awareness as an opportunity to help you learn more about stress, it’s effects and ways to combat against it.
Basic Physiology of Stress
In order to understand the effects of stress, we must first understand the role of the Autonomic Nervous System, which has two branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. When we are in a stressful or threatening situation, our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, meaning our brain goes into fight, flight or freeze response. This stress response initiates a series of actions, such as increased heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure and a flooding of hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol.
However, our bodies are built to adapt and re-balance with the help of the parasympathetic nervous system, which decreases our heart rate and relaxes the blood vessels.
While these two branches of the nervous system are built to maintain balance, many of us are living with chronic stress, meaning our sympathetic nervous system remains activated and on guard. Living in a heightened state of stress, whether it’s due to work, school, relationships or other circumstances, can have detrimental and long-term effects on the body’s health and immune system. Read the rest of this entry