Youth, just like adults, face many stressors. Stress can have negative impacts on individual lives and create obstacles in relationships. In my experience I see youth as young as 13 years old feeling stressed out and overwhelmed on a daily basis.
Stress affects both our physical and mental health. Understanding how each of us experiences stress and how our bodies react can be a powerful indicator in identifying our stressors and decreasing its effects. Symptoms often start in the mind, but are usually not recognized until they manifest in our bodies. Some of the symptoms of stress are: worrying, forgetfulness, exhaustion or feeling overtired, feeling unwell, knots in the pit of your belly, sweating, headaches, body aches and thoughts of running away. Some of the triggers that cause stress are; dating relationships, relationships with parents, lack of money or difficulty managing money, increased responsibility, sexual orientation, gender identity, death or illness in the family, homework, deadlines, grades, social stressors, and graduation.
When we don’t pay attention to stress it can manifest in our lives as unhealthy behaviours, such as drinking or smoking too much, risk taking behaviours, being overly critical of yourself and others, lack of self-esteem or spending a lot of time in front of the TV or excessive online gaming, or/and withdrawing. Stress can be an underlying factor in other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression which can lead to self-harm and suicide.
Once you recognize the signs of stress it is easier to manage how much of an impact it will make in your life. Some of the things you can do when you feel your stress levels raising are:
- Move – go for a walk, hike or bike ride, turn the music up and dance like nobody’s watching. If you have a sport that you enjoy, go out and do it. A regular physical hobby will also help to keep your daily stress down.
- Be artistic – paint a picture, knit a sweater, play your guitar or simply sing a song.
- Giggle – watch a movie that makes you laugh or hang out with those friends, that together, you laugh till your sides hurt.
- Breathe – focus on your breathing. Practice mindfulness, or mediation.
- Volunteer – Do something for someone or simply practice random acts of kindness.
- Gratitude – Think of or make a list of all the positives in your life. Think of all the things you have learned in the last year or an issue that you have moved past.
- Feel – recognize where you are and what you are feeling and understand that nothing is permanent.
- Talk – about how you feel with a friend, parents, or someone that makes you feel safe.
Remember that stress is an individual experience and it looks and feels different for everyone. Everyone will experience some stress in their lives – how you manage your way through it is up to you.
by Sharyn Carroll – R + R Facilitator
SWOVA Empowering Youth for a Better Tomorrow
Since 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been an opportunity to recognise exceptional achievements of women. To celebrate IWD this year SWOVA will be honouring Emerging Leaders – young women who are already making exceptional contributions to life in the Southern Gulf Islands.
We are seeking nominations from the community of girls and young women (up to 39 years old) who have been an inspiration to other women, changed their community or world, challenged barriers, or demonstrated leadership in other ways that have impressed you.
These young women will be celebrated at the second annual Changemaker Awards dinner on Saturday, March 7, 2015, at the Harbour House Hotel and Organic Farm. Our MP, Elizabeth May, will present the awards to the nominees.
Tickets for the dinner last year sold out early and Islanders were clamouring for more. The event was so inspiring and well-received that SWOVA has decided to make the event an annual celebration and fund raiser. Dinner tickets will go on sale on February 7, 2015 and can be purchased at Salt Spring Books for $35 each.
To Nominate a Young Changemaker:
Please tell us in 450 words or less why you think your nominee should be honoured as an Emerging Leader. Provide contact information for yourself and your nominee. Due to the popularity of last year’s event and because there are many amazing emerging leaders in our community, we will only be celebrating the first 15 nominations received. Nominations will close when 15 have been received or at 5pm on February 4th, 2015 – whichever comes first.
Send entries via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail to SWOVA, 344 Lower Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island, BC, V8K 2V3. For more information call: 250-537-1336 (Office hours: Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm.)
SWOVA empowering youth for a better tomorrow
We ended 2014 reeling from the allegations of violent sexual assaults and drugging victims against Jian Gomeshi and Bill Cosby, sexual improprieties on Parliament Hill and sexually violent threats by Dalhousie University dental students. We had a break over the seasonal holidays and now we are starting 2015 with more news of the suspension from clinical practice of 13 male Dalhousie dental students and public protests over Bill Cosby’s shows in Canada. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne waded into the discussions in saying to the media “there are very serious allegations against this man (Bill Cosby) and certainly until those are sorted out I would certainly not go to a performance.”
Forty years ago when I was a young woman we would not have been talking openly about these issues, they certainly would not have been front page news and prominent public figures would not have been taking outspoken stands on the issues. In fact most women were either too ashamed to tell anyone about their assaults or blamed themselves for what had happened. Scars that last a lifetime were left by the shame and fear that victims of sexual assault and harassment felt.
It seems that times have changed over those forty years and it’s a good thing. It isn’t that sexual violence and harassment have dramatically increased of late it’s that we are finally talking about it, listening to the victims and giving them support and it’s about time.
SWOVA – Empowering Youth for a Better Tomorrow