Stress and Anxiety

Mother Helping Daughter With Homework In Kitchen

Submitted by Elementary School Counselors

Stress is impossible to avoid. Given the pressures of daily life, chronic stress itself has become a life-threatening situation to many, causing a host of health problems, including

  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased body weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, we can relieve the fight-or-flight response that sends our bodies into danger mode, and teach ourselves relaxation responses that, over time, will reduce our physiological stress reaction. Here are some tips that can help to reduce stress:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Maintain healthy eating habits
  • Manage your time effectively
  • Get enough rest and sleep
  • Learn assertive reactions
  • Make time for hobbies and interests
  • Seek out social supports
  • Say no to requests that will create stress in your life.

Acute and chronic stress is not a diagnosable mental illness, but anxiety disorders are. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America, affecting around 18 percent of the U.S. population in any given year, and almost 30 percent of American adults. Anxiety disorders include:

  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Phobias
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone has from time to time, but for some people, anxiety is a persistent problem that interferes with daily activities such as work, school, or sleep. This type of anxiety can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, and over time it can lead to serious health concerns and other problems. Anxiety disorders can occur in children as well as in adults, and must be addressed, since anxiety in children can affect intellectual, emotional and social development, as well as physical health.
In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while psychotherapy is underway. Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, to discover what caused the anxiety disorder, and how to deal with its symptoms.

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the first person you should see is your family doctor. A physician can determine whether the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both.

Further Resources self help.htm

The Worried Child: Recognizing Anxiety in Children and Helping Them Heal by Paul Foxman

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping by Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D.

National Geographic Documentary explaining Stress and Anxiety, by Dr. Sapolsky