Stressed Out

Stressed Out

HE Code: 
Booklet A5
Publication date: 
12 April 2007
Status: This resource is online only.
Cartoon-style information for teenagers on handling life's pressures, frustrations and stresses, including how to deal with stress overload.

Keeping it together under pressure

Everyone feels stress. Everyone has problems and finds it hard at times. Young people have heaps of energy when it comes to adapting to all that’s going on. And there are some things you can do to handle stress to feel back in control.

What is stress?

Stress is the way your body, mind and feelings react to everything that happens to you or around you. These reactions are normal, everyone has them.

Physical reactions:

  • Tense jaw
  • Heart beats faster
  • Sweating
  • Tensed up muscles
  • Headaches
  • Feeling faint
  • Tight chest
  • Breathing quickly
  • Knots in your stomach
  • Trembling, shaking

Stress affects a person’s body first. You notice that you’re stressed by how you’re feeling physically. Stress goes on to affect your thoughts and feelings…

Thoughts and feelings:

  • Can’t make up your mind
  • Feeling impatient
  • Finding it hard to relax
  • Confused
  • Feeling like everyone is bugging you
  • Can’t concentrate
  • Forgetting things often
  • Not feeling so confident

Stress overload

Stress overload happens when stress becomes too much…

  • Worrying a lot
  • Eating heaps more or heaps less than usual
  • Feeling like you’re losing control
  • Feeling tired a lot of the time
  • Getting angry easily, snapping at people
  • Getting really drunk all the time, or taking drugs to escape
  • Taking stupid risks eg: drinking and driving, having unsafe sex
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Feeling like crying often
  • Getting colds a lot

It’s important to notice that you’re becoming stressed, and do something about it, before you get to this stage.

But if you’ve already been taking risks and suffering the consequences, don’t despair, there is always something you can do to get back on your feet.

What causes stress overload

Stress is a part of everyday life. Some stress is good, it gets you going in a scary situation.

Stress overload can come from having too much going on in your life or not enough happening in your life – so you can feel bored or frustrated.

Stress can be feelings that you’re carrying round connected to things like:

  • Being treated badly at home.
  • Not liking your body.
  • Clash of values and traditions between your family and the outside world.
  • Difficulties with money in the family.
  • Worrying about the future.

It can help at this time to remember:

  1. Often it’s just a matter of getting yourself through a difficult time. You may need some help to see it through.
  2. Heavy times pass, life improves.

Stress solutions

Stress solutions:

  • Give you back some control.
  • Help you to feel good about yourself.
  • Stop stress overload.

Talk about it

Talking helps, you will:

  • Feel better.
  • Feel less confused.
  • Feel less alone.

There are lots of people who can help…

  • Family/whānau
  • Friends
  • School counsellor
  • Lifeline
  • Youthline Samaritans
  • Local marae/iwi organisation
  • School teacher
  • Church worker
  • Citizens Advice Bureau

How to talk

A good start…

  • Be honest when someone you trust, and who you know will listen, asks how you are.
  • Describe what’s been happening that’s been weighing you down.
  • You can sort out what to do by talking a problem over with someone.

Stress solutions

  • Watch a funny movie with a friend.
  • Do something creative. Paint a picture, write a poem or story.
  • Dance
  • Give yourself a treat.
  • Spend some time with your family/whanau.
  • Go outside and do something active.
  • Let your feelings out! Punch a pillow, have a good cry. It’s ok to feel like crying. Be easy on yourself until the feeling passes – it will.
  • Eat some good food – some fruit and veges each day.
  • Take a bath.
  • Do something about what’s causing you the stress.  Divide into:
    • Can’t fix (leave alone)
    • Can fix – deal to one thing at a time.

Choose whichever stress solutions you think are the most important for you at the moment. Start with those. It takes time to get into good habits to reduce stress.

Helping a friend or family member who is stressed

  • Be honest about your concern for your friend or family member.
  • Keep giving your friend lots of opportunities to talk. Your job is to listen without judging.
  • Do some of the stress solutions from this booklet together.
  • Stick with your friend – it can take time for people to work out what to do and make changes.
  • If your friend seems really stressed out encourage them to get help from someone.
  • If your friend is being grumpy and hard to get on with, or you’re really worried about them, ask someone you trust for advice.

Working to improve the mental health of all people and communities in New Zealand.

For more information

PO Box 10051, Auckland 1003
Tel: Auckland (09) 300 7010
Wellington (04) 384 4002
Christchurch (03) 366 6936

ISBN 978-0-478-19241-4 (print)
ISBN 978-0-478-19242-1 (online)