Chill : Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-04-08
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
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Your day starts at 6 a.m. and ends at midnight -- if you're lucky.You keep up with all two hundred of your friends on Facebook.You practically invented the word "multitasking." Sound familiar? You're not alone. You are part of the most overscheduled, overprogrammed, and overwhelmed generation on the planet. AndChillcan help you manage it all. This book: explains what happens to your body and mind when you're stressed shows you how to de-stress through a variety of techniques including time management, visualization, exercise, and creative outlets offers organizational tips to make every part of your life run more smoothly helps you deal with some of the side effects of stress ...and much more. Youcando it all. It's just a matter of having the right frame of mind. So relax, take a deep breath...and chill.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
What Is Stress?p. 6
Time-out: Stress Through the Yearsp. 12
What's Eating You?p. 13
Taking Action
Time Managementp. 28
Time-out: College Admissions Survival Guidep. 45
Organizationp. 50
Speaking Up and Saying Nop. 67
Time-out: Gotta Work? Finding Balance When You Have a Jobp. 82
Looking Out
Creating a Support Systemp. 86
Time-out: The Friendship Survival Guidep. 101
Getting Perspectivep. 107
Time-out: More Than Stress? When It's Time to Get Professional Helpp. 121
Looking In
DIY Therapyp. 126
Journalingp. 141
Time-out: Five-Minute Stress Bustersp. 151
Zoning Out and Tuning Inp. 152
Time-out: Going Zenp. 165
Getting Physical
Exercisep. 170
Nutritionp. 184
Epiloguep. 196
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


What Is Stress?

Stress seems to be on just about everyone's minds these days. I get tons of e-mails and letters from teen girls sharing their personal tales of stress and angst in their lives. So how do you define stress?

Stress is the feeling you get when you're taking on too much, or people are demanding on you too much.

-- Zoe, age 17

I would define stress as being overwhelmed with a certain problem or person.

-- Alia, age 16

Stress is tension, whether emotional or physical. You can be stressed out about friendship troubles, or you can be stressed out about lack of sleep. You can getimpatient in a long line at the grocery store, or your body can be stressed out by overexerting yourself in an exercise or sport.

-- Gwyn, age 15

All great definitions. Here's how the American Academy of Pediatrics defines stress: "[Stress is] the uncomfortable feeling you get when you're worried, scared, frustrated, or overwhelmed. It is caused by emotions, but it affects your mood and your body."

That definition might be straightforward enough, but stress sure doesn't feel straightforward to deal with. Yes, it's a normal part of life, but that doesn't mean it won't take a toll. Let stress run rampant and your mind, body, and soul will pay the price.

The Origins of Stress

Have you ever been in a situation where you went from calm to terrified in a split second? Maybe you were jolted awake in the middle of the night by a suspicious noise coming from inside your house. Or maybe you stepped into a busy intersection just as a car darted out of nowhere and narrowly missed hitting you. Maybe you were water-skiing, and, as you waited for the boat to swing around and pick you up, your mind turned to the movieJaws, and you nearly freaked out big-time.

When you're thrust into a situation that feels dangerous, scary, or potentially life-threatening, your body switches to autopilot, and your nervous system takes over. Once your brain makes an internal announcement that something is wrong, your body responds by automatically releasing the hormone adrenaline into the blood stream. That's when the party really gets started. The adrenaline affects you by:

  • increasing your heart rate (so you can take in more oxygen in case you need to run or exert yourself)
  • raising your blood pressure (a result of your heart beating faster and your blood vessels constricting)
  • sending more blood to your muscles so you'll be ready to react quickly and with power

Your body also releases cortisol, another hormone that works with adrenaline to:give you a quick burst of energyimprove your memoryincrease your ability to withstand pain

If you've ever experienced a surge of adrenaline, or an "adrenaline rush," you might have noticed that things suddenly appeared to be happening in slow motion. Maybe you felt a rush of blood to your arms, legs, hands, or feet. Or maybe you broke out in a sweat, or suddenly felt shaky and nauseous. These are all classic symptoms of the "fight-or-flight response," a subconscious preparation by your body to do what it takes -- stay and fight or turn and run -- to survive any situation. They are also the classic symptoms of what we call stress.

In emergencies, stress can be a good thing. It's a survival tool, and a pretty efficient one at that. Stress isn't always a negative in your day-to-day life, either. It's stress that gives you that extra oomph while you're playing in the state soccer tournament, or when you're pushing to meet an impossible deadline. Small amounts of stress can keep you on your toes and push you to perform at your highest level. But what happens when you're dealt too much?

When Stress Doesn't Go Away

Just as your body's stress responses switch on during an emergency, they're supposed to switch off once the crisis has passed. Your heart rate should go back to normal, the sweating should stop, and the queasy feeling in your stomach should vanish.

But the problem comes in when your body repeatedly gets tricked into responding to stresses that aren't life threatening. Anxiety about next week's midterm can trigger the same fight-or-flight response as a serious threat. But since you don't actually need your survival hormones to get through your midterm, you're left with extra adrenaline and cortisol hanging around. The result? Your body starts exhibiting classic stress symptoms all the time. Instead of giving you a boost to power through an emergency, the stress starts wearing you down. And that's when the trouble begins.

What Stress Does

Being seriously stressed out can cause all kinds of not-so-pleasant side effects, including:

  • trouble sleeping
  • tense muscles and muscle pain
  • stomachaches, digestion problems, and/or constipation
  • headaches, including migraines
  • irritability and moodiness
  • feeling down about everything
  • unexpected emotional outbursts (such as crying or laughing for no reason)
  • an irregular heartbeat or rapid heart rate
  • lowered immunity (being more susceptible to illness or rashes)
  • difficulty concentrating
  • acne

Dealing with even one of these symptoms on a regular basis would wreak havoc on your peace factor. And when your stress runs rampant, it's also potentially damaging to your long-term health. Overstressed teens are at risk for developing depression and panic or anxiety disorders.

The Stress Roller Coaster

Once you buckle up for a ride on the stress roller coaster, it can sometimes be hard to climb off. Here's an example of how stress feeds on itself in a vicious cycle:You feel anxious about something, you lose sleep, you're constantly tired, you rely on sugar and caffeine to perk you up, you become nutritionally imbalanced, you lack the energy to do anything about what you originally felt anxious about, you feel more anxiety and stress (and back to the beginning again)

You've probably already come up with some healthy ways to release your stress, but sometimes you might be coping in unhealthy ways too -- getting into fights or lashing out at parents and friends, keeping your emotions and anxieties bottled up inside, bullying other people, or experimenting with drinking, doing drugs, engaging in risky sexual behavior, or cutting.

You can't always control the stressful situations that life throws your way, but you can control how you deal with your stress. To find your best stress solution, you need to figure out what it is you're so stressed out about in the first place. Read on to find out what teens everywhere say are their biggest stress sources. Chances are, you'll realize you're not alone.


I write a lot of poetry and songs to relieve my stress...it helps to get everything out.

-- Devin, age 15

My technique for relieving stress is running on the treadmill and listening to my favorite music. Also, just reading a book or magazine while listening to music is stress-relieving for me.

-- Samantha, age 16

I've kept diaries since I was eight years old, and I write almost every night. It relaxes me and helps me fall asleep.

-- Abigail, age 18

I make sure I have alone time.

-- Alyssa, age 16Copyright © 2008 by Deborah Reber

Excerpted from Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You by Deborah Reber
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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