CHILDLINE ADVICE: Finding ways to help manage a young person’s stress levels
Stress can be our body’s way of motivating us to do something, or to help us see that something in our life needs to change.
It can be very helpful, but too much can make us feel overwhelmed and even like we can’t cope.
April is Stress Awareness Month, giving us all an opportunity to step back and take a look at our stress levels – whether we’re coping with our levels of stress, and whether we have mechanisms in place to help us cope if we need them.
At Childline we talk to a lot of children and young people about the stresses in their lives and what causes them.
These causes can vary, ranging from school work, family arguments and disagreements with friends, to bullying, online safety issues and, sadly, even abuse.
One young person told us: “I’ve been given what feels like a million things to do by school, but I’ve only completed a few of them. I keep getting distracted by my phone, and it’s getting so stressful I’m finding it hard to get motivated, which is making things so much worse.”
Sometimes, as much as we want to, we can’t always take away the causes of stress for children and young people.
So instead we have to help them find ways to manage their stress, so it doesn’t get on top of them.
Some children may find writing down or drawing how they feel may help, or maybe simply doing something creative can take their mind off the things causing them stress for a while.
Exercise and sports can help, as can eating and drinking healthily, helping their bodies react to stress in a healthy and manageable way.
On the Childline’s moderated message boards they can find peer support, as well as our Calm Zone which offers more practical tips on how to feel better.
If things still seem overwhelming, even after taking a break, it may be a good idea to plan what to do about the things that are causing stress.
Parents and carers can help children in the first instance by listening to their concerns and worries, and offering support. Children and young people can also contact us at Childline, on 0800 11 11 or at childline.org.uk