How To: Cope with Stress

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Stress. It affects all of us. From school to athletics, academia, relationships, money, and our jobs and careers, stress surrounds us. It can shatter us from the inside, or sometimes it’s just something that is perched on our shoulders, stress is something everyone struggles with.

This piece is going to be quite anecdotal, but coming from someone who has an everlingering ordeal with stress, I truly hope that you can gain something from this.

For quite a while now, I have been a generally stressed person. I have been known as anal-retentive from a young age. This constant obsession to know exactly what is going to happen next, where I am going, how to execute something, etc, has caused me a lot of stress. In my early adolescence I believed that only certain people could feel stress; those of low socioeconomic statuses, adults, persons in stressful family scenarios, and those with mental health illnesses. When my peers and I would explain that we were stressed and had too much homework to a teacher that had given us a heavy workload, they would often reply with “Ha! What do you guys have to be stressed about?” These replies felt like jabs in the gut. They see teenagers as young people without a care in the world. The thing is though, a lot of us have about a million cares in the world… if that makes any logical sense.

Teenage years are a pinnacle point in one’s life, our main identity is emerging and there is so much pressure to figure out who we are. Am I someone who does drugs, do I faithfully follow a religion, or do I do both? Do I date someone, do I merely hookup with people, or do I think I love someone but my heart gets broken? So many questions and decisions are made, and stress arises with each crucial step that’s taken in developing from a child to a young adult.

On top of these heavy social and personal decisions and questions that teens face, many are also plagued with issues at home, with money, school, relationships, mental health, body image, peers, etc.

Personally, I have been so fortunate to have parents that are happily married, I live in a safe neighbourhood, and I have never had to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I am always trying to remain aware of how lucky I am and that I don’t face the additional stress that so many other teenagers face regarding family and money.

However, I have faced stress from competitive sport and pressure from school. I won’t give the entire backstory, because that would take way too long. But, I will say that there a few people that were quite mean to me when I was younger and they have made an everlasting impact on my self-esteem that impairs me to this day. They have caused me to stress and worry about how I perform in sport, how I look, and everything that I do when they are in my presence.

It has taken me many years to realise that their opinion of me won’t matter in 20–even 10–years from now. I sometimes still find myself thinking and caring about what their perceptions are of me, but I find bliss in the times that I don’t. In times of stress, I remind myself, “This won’t matter in a couple of days/weeks/months, and whatever I am facing will get better or come to an end”. This has spared me so much anxiety and tears over things that I haven’t been able to control.

Here is the sum of my advice: 1) Have a tagline or sentence to say to yourself in stressful times. Mine is “This won’t matter in X amount of time.” 2) Know that everyone faces stress. Whether it is less or more than what you are experiencing. 3) What you are stressed about may never end, but it will most definitely subside or you will become better at coping with it.

x Addie