What is stress?

Stress is a normal reaction to certain tasks or events in our lives, which happens automatically in our bodies. However, when stress gets too much and goes on for too long it stops being helpful to us and eventually can become a risk to our mental health.

You may have heard of the ‘fight or flight response’. This is when your body gets a surge of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which make you more alert and ready to react. It is very useful when we are threatened or in danger and need to run away or protect ourselves. However, when this reaction occurs regularly in situations where there is no real physical threat it can start to have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health.

What causes stress?

There are many reasons why you might feel over-stressed, different things causes stress in different people and often stress is the build-up of lots of things rather than a single event.

These are some of things that can cause stress:

  • Pressure from school/college work and exams
  • Lots of change – starting a new school or college or moving to a new area for example
  • Problems with friendships or relationships
  • Arguing with your parents/ lots of conflict at home
  • Being bullied
  • Your parents/carers splitting up
  • Financial problems in your family
  • Having lots of responsibilities – for example having to care for a parent or sibling, on top of school work
  • Being homeless
  • Being a young parent
  • Someone close to you all being ill or dying

See Epic Friends or The Mix for more information about stress and tips on how to manage it.

How do I know if I’m stressed?

Stress can build up without us really noticing, so it’s important to look out for early signs that things are getting too much or starting to feel out of control, then we can take steps to reduce it and find some healthy ways to cope.

Signs of too much stress can include:

  • Feeling under pressure or overwhelmed all the time
  • Feeling you can’t cope
  • Feeling tense, anxious or panicky all the time
  • Feeling low, irritable, moody or burned out
  • Losing your temper, a lot
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions
  • Blocking out difficult feelings by using drugs or alcohol

Stress can also give you physical symptoms, you might:

  • Have lots of headaches, stomach aches or muscle pains
  • Feel sick, dizzy or light headed
  • Have a racing heart or shaky hands
  • Feel exhausted and run down
  • Lose your appetite, or only feel like eating sugary, fatty foods
  • Find it hard to sleep
  • Get lots of colds, coughs, cold sores, mouth ulcers or infections

What helps?

Talking about why you are stressed will allow you to identify solutions to help reduce your stress levels. For example, if you’re overwhelmed at school then you should talk to your teachers. Together you can come up with a plan to make your work more manageable. This could involve reducing your work load, having a deadline extension or getting some extra support with certain tasks.

How can I help myself?

There are lots of things that you can do to reduce stress. It’s important to find some time and make changes.

  1. Take time out – take some time to unwind, relax and do something you enjoy. This could include reading a book, watching a film, playing computer games or listening to music.
  2. Look after your body – stress can be draining, being kind to our bodies will help us cope better. This includes eating healthily and regularly exercising. Although you might crave fatty, sugary foods or turn to energy drinks and caffeine these will only increase stress and tiredness. Try to eat a healthy diet including lots of fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water and don’t skip meals! Regular exercise helps to get rid of negative energy and releases ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brains that helps to boost mood. Try going for a run, cycle, swim or surf, or join a dance or boxing class. Playing Wii Fit, doing or punching a punch bag in your bedroom also count as exercise!
  3. Get plenty of sleep – get some early nights and try to wind down before you go to bed. Turn off the technology, stop working or studying, maybe take a bath or have a hot drink. Listen to music or watch TV if you are finding it hard to switch off.
  4. Avoid using drugs, alcohol or smoking to cope with stress these will only provide temporary relief and can make things worse in the long run
  5. Talk – Talking to people you trust can help to put problems in to perspective and help create a solution
  6. Get creative – express difficult feelings creatively, they are better out than in! Creative activities can also be relaxing. You could try drawing, colouring, painting, writing poetry, lyrics or short stories, making music, dancing, doing crafts or baking.
  7. Connect with nature – spending some time outdoors each week has been proven to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. Getting some fresh air, looking around us and noticing the landscape and wildlife can ‘blow away the cobwebs’ and boost our mood.
  8. Make time for fun and laughter – do something you enjoy each day, take up a new hobby, play a computer game or socialise with friends or family. Humour and laughter are great ways to relieve stress, so find things to laugh at every day.
  9. Switch off from technology – while social media is a great way to keep in touch it can also add to our stresses and anxieties. If you are feeling stressed by social media try taking a few days off and see how you feel.
  10. Take control – feeling in control of a situation helps you to cope with it better. Try breaking down tasks or problems which feel huge in to smaller chunks that you can tackle one at a time. You can also prioritise things, just think about what is most important right now and what can wait. If you are feeling stressed about exams, then you might want to try writing a revision timetable with small tasks to achieve each day. Problems are easier to deal with one at a time, and writing things down can make them seem less scary. But pick your battles, there are lots of things in life we cannot change or control. Sometimes it is just best to accept that these things (or people!) are as they are, and focus on what we can control or change instead.
  11. Practise positive thinking – this doesn’t mean ignoring difficult situations, it means trying to approach these with a more positive and productive attitude. Changing the way you think about stressful things can help you to cope with them better. Try replacing negative and unhelpful thoughts such as ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘I’m going to fail’ with more positive and realistic ones like ‘I can do this, I’ve done it before’, ‘I’ve done the work and will do my best on the day’.And don’t beat yourself up – we tend to be much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Try following this simple rule – ‘don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend’.
  12. Ask for help – you don’t have to cope alone, if things feel really overwhelming then it is important to ask for help from a parent/carer, trusted adult or professional.

https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH3Ujy0muP4&index=6&list=UU_l7KgbwZi5XU-Vk_0F1gcg

ER Groups

Who are they?

Emotional Resilience Groups are a 6-week programme which provides a safe space and social support for young people to build emotional resilience. The programme provides young people with early support around concerns such as anxiety, low mood, stress, relationship difficulties and bullying.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, low mood, stress, low self-esteem, poor communication skills, self-harm and risk taking.

What services do they provide?

  • Sessions focus on developing emotional resilience through promoting emotional wellbeing, positive mental health, self-help and peer support
  • Young people will develop skills and strategies to manage low level mental health difficulties and access appropriate support.

When are they open?

This can vary but generally Monday-Friday

Where?

Within schools and Community venues across Cornwall.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-25 with mild to moderate mental health

HeadStart Your Way

Who are they?

HeadStart Your Way is the Community strand of HeadStart Kernow delivered by the Your Way partnership. They support young people aged 10-16, parents, carers, volunteers and community groups through their Youth and Community Facilitators aiming to prevent the onset of mental ill health.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

The main target group for support within HeadStart are young people with low level anxiety and stress through to mild and early stage mental ill health. However, all staff have also been trained within the Trauma Informed Schools approach to develop an in-depth understanding of what it’s like for a young person to suffer from specific mental health problems e.g. depression / anxiety and feel confident in offering them accurate empathy, understanding and key psycho-education support.

What services do they provide?

Their Youth Facilitators can provide you with direct support through one to one workshops and group activities. Offering a safe and confidential place to talk as well as giving you the relevant information and techniques to help with your emotional wellbeing.

Their Community Facilitators can provide links between young people, schools, community groups, professional and parents. As well as delivering specialist training packages tailored to parents/carers, community groups, VCSE providers and volunteers around mental health and wellbeing. They also manage a group of volunteer mentors who can offer you support, understanding and encouragement through any challenges you might be experiencing, at a lower level than our Youth Facilitators provision.

When are they open?

Their services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and Facilitator.

Where?

Their Facilitators arrange visits in schools, local outreach and community venues across the County dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Referrals should be made via the Early Help Hub by requesting a "Bloom" consultation. The Early Help Hub will then ensure that the most appropriate means of help and support are given. It’s important to note that a referral into Bloom does not guarantee support from a HeadStart Youth Facilitator. It is however the only way to access HeadStarts one-to-one support. Contact the Early Help Hub by calling 01872 322277 or emailing earlyhelphub@cornwall.gov.uk

Who can be referred?

10-16 year olds with Mild to Moderate Mental Health issues.

Speak Up Cornwall

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) speak up Cornwall is a participation group for young people aged 13-24 looking at, supporting with youth voice and creating tool kits for mental health services across Cornwall. Speak Up Cornwall works at both a local reginal and national levels. It also supports services at a strategic level as well as service entry level.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Current members have a wide range of mental health issues.
  • What services do they provide?
  • Participation group
  • Support
  • Peer Support

When are they open?

Days and times will be confirmed by the group lead.

Where?

They meet once a month at Zebs youth centre The Leats, Town Centre, Truro TR1 3AG.

They also work remotely (over social media) and attend meetings, conferences and events all over Cornwall, the southwest and nationally.

How do I refer?

Via emailing charlotte.brasier@ypc.org.uk or through the Young People Cornwall referral form which can be requested by emailing: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Young People aged 13-24 with an awareness of mental health services.

Xenzone

Who are they?

XenZone is an organisation that provides Face to Face and online mental health services for children, young people and adults. Kooth, from XenZone, is a free online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Stress, Identity, Sexuality, Health, Relationships, Eating Disorders (no restriction to this currently).

What services do they provide?

  • Face to Face & Online Counselling
  • Online Mentoring
  • IPT-A Counselling
  • CBT Counselling
  • A range of psychotherapeutic practices and methods (each dependent on the associate)

When are they open?

Their Online services are available Monday-Friday 12pm-10pm and Saturday-Sunday 4pm-10pm.

Their face to face services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and counsellor.

Where?

Their Face to Face team arranges visits in schools, local outreach and community venues dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Via email cornwalloffice@xenzone.com or phone for face to Face support but email is always recommended. You, a family member or professional can make a referral to the service.

For online services you can create an account and log on to the website to access information and support.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people up to the age of 19 (up to the eve of 20th Birthday) experiencing Mental Health difficulties.

Young Men’s group

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) the service is for male individuals aged 11-19 with low level mental health issues to engage in group work. Their 1 to 1 service is first offered, with invitation to join a group. Group operates similar to a youth group in that young people can relax in a safe space, engage with workers and other group members through activities, enjoy informal discussion and have something to eat. Group trips to residential centres, activity providers and meals out also happen.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

A wide range of low level general mental health concerns such as Anxiety, depression, stress, low mood, self-harm etc.

What services do they provide?

  • 1 to 1 work
  • Group work

When are they open?

Two groups are run once a week on a weekday evening for two and a half hours.

Where?

Previous groups took place in Launceston & Liskeard but these will be moving locations towards the Redruth, Camborne & Pool area as well as St Ives.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Referrals can be made from a wide range of sources such as yourself, school, charity service, CAMHS, G.P, parent, targeted youth worker and police. Once referrals have been received workers aim to make contact within 7 days.

Who can be referred?

Young men aged 11-19. Usual referrals indicate willingness to get involved with group work at some point. Criteria can include; social skills, social isolation, low level mental health, learning disability, victims of crime, general low confidence and self-esteem.

Myth buster #1

Myth: Stress is bad

Fact: People tend to talk about stress as if it is totally negative, actually some forms of stress can be good for us! A little bit of stress or stimulation can help us to stay motivated and productive, it gives us energy and can help us to concentrate and focus, it drives us to meet deadlines or perform well in exams, sports or public speaking for example. This type of good stress we could feel very lethargic, lazy and even bored. Stress becomes a problem when it Is long lasting and feels overwhelming.

Watch this ted talk to find out how to make stress your friend.

Myth buster #2

Myth: Stress is a sign of success

Fact: We live in a society where busyness and stress seem to be worn like a badge of honour, showing how important and hardworking we are. However, while a little bit of stress and stimulation can motivate us to perform better, too much stress quickly overwhelms us and leads to underperformance. Overworking can lead to burn out in the end, rather than making us more successful. So remember to take a break.

Myth buster #3

Myth: Stress is everywhere and you can’t do anything about it.

Fact: There are lots of things you can do to reduce stress, for example setting priorities and problem solving rather than worrying, and making sure you build activities to help you unwind into your daily routine. This could include exercise, relaxation, a hobby or club, or just watching something you like on TV.

Useful resources

Thrive

A self-help app for young people to manage stress and anxiety

Stresshead

Try out the ‘Stresshead’ app for some immediate stress relief

Need help now?

If you need to speak to someone urgently call your GP or family doctor!

or

Childline up to 19yrs : 0800 1111
The Samaritans: 116 123
In an emergency go to A&E or call 999

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