Feeling Stressed? You are not alone! But why do we have stress? What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?  What can you do?  Below is helpful information for you!

Why Do We Stress?

Stress is actually normal and here to help you!

Stress has a bad reputation and is often seen as something negative. The truth is stress is a normal reaction to challenging situations to help you through the challenge, but it's all about how you view stress.

In fact, Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a lot of new research that proves this.


The research followed 29,000 people over 8 years and discovered that how you view stress is more important than the actual amount of stress in your life. If you think about it being bad all of the time, then it might end up being bad. But if you look at it as something positive - energizing and challenging - then that could help. It can even help you live longer. make your life longer! That's pretty cool, right?!

Watch this Video About Viewing Stress Positively

Differences between Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are both emotional responses, but they're not the same.

Stress is a normal reaction to challenging situations happening right now, like a tough homework assignment, exams, social events, or an argument with a friend. It's actually your body's way of preparing to deal with pressure. It can make you feel upset, tired, or even give you a headache or stomachache. However, anxiety is more intense where you feel worried all the time, even when there's no specific thing causing it. It can give you the same physical feelings as stress, like trouble sleeping or feeling irritable, but you might also have racing thoughts, or experience panic attacks.

While stress is often temporary and goes away once the situation is resolved, anxiety can last longer and affect daily life. If you're unsure about your feelings, it's important to talk to a trusted adult or seek help from a counselor who can provide guidance and support.

For more information on anxiety and treatments, see this American Psychological Association article that explains how psychologists can help people with anxiety disorders.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (June 2016). American Academy of Pediatrics supports childhood sleep guidelines

American Psychological Association. (2013). Stress in America™ 2013 highlights: Are teens adopting adults’ stress habits?

American Psychological Association. (2018), Stress in America, Generation Z, K., Kaltenbach, A., Szabo, A., Bogar, S., Nieto, F., & Malecki, K. (2014). Exposure to neighborhood green space and mental health: Evidence from the survey of the health of Wisconsin. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(3), 3453–3472.

Bitsko, R. H., Holbrook, J. R., Ghandour, R. M., Blumberg, S. J., Visser, S. N., Perou, R., & Walkup, J. T. (2018). Epidemiology and impact of health care provider–diagnosed anxiety and depression among US children. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 39(5), 395–403.

National Institute of Mental Health. I’m so stressed out! fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

Smyth, J. M., Johnson, J. A., Auer, B. J., Lehman, E., Talamo, G., & Sciamanna, C.N. (2018). Online positive affect journaling in the improvement of mental distress and well-being in general medical patients with elevated anxiety symptoms: A preliminary randomized controlled trial. JMIR Mental Health, 5(4), Article11290.

Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Effective child therapy.

Tan, L., & Martin, G. (2015). Taming the adolescent mind: A randomised controlled trial examining clinical efficacy of an adolescent mindfulness‐based group programme. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 20(1), 49–55.

Reframing Your Stress - Simple Exercise

Feeling a bit stressed out?  Here is a simple exercise that can help! 

Step 1 - find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and close your eyes. 

Step 2 - Spend the first minute being aware of your body and getting relaxed.

Step 3 - Notice how your body is responding to the stress:  heart is racing, you may feel tingly in your fingers and stomach, tension in your muscles.

Step 4 - Remind yourself that the stress is there to give you energy and help us learn more quickly! You don't have to be ashamed of feeling stressed - it's natural for all of us to feel this way sometimes.

Step 5 (final step) - Put on a smile while thinking about these positive things about stress, and you'll start to feel better soon!

Stress Mangement Techniques

Can stress still be overwhelming?  Yes.

For these cases here are some things you can do to help manage those high stress times.

1. Take deep breaths

When you're feeling stressed, try taking slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, count to four, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this a few times to help calm your body and mind.

    1. Maybe have a button with a timer - Inhale, 2, 3, 4…. Exhale, 2, 3,
    1. 4…

2. Move your body

Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress. Find activities you enjoy, like dancing, biking, playing a sport, or going for a walk. Moving your body releases feel-good chemicals that can help you feel better.

3. Get outside

Just being outside, even if you’re not doing anything else, helps your body release feel-good chemicals that can help you feel better.

4. Get enough sleep

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for managing stress. Aim for around 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and create a relaxing sleep environment to help you unwind and recharge. [Interactive short quiz: Are you getting enough sleep?]

5. Talk to someone

Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or adult. Sometimes just talking about what's bothering you can make a big difference. They might have helpful advice or simply be there to listen and support you.

Pro tip: Tell your friends or family what you need from them.   Do you need some advice? Ask them for advice.  Or maybe you just want to vent, and really don’t want advice.  *Insert illustration of girl talking with talk bubble*: “I really just need to vent right now… I don’t want any advice - can you just hear me out?”

6. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Try activities like mindful breathing or focusing on your senses. It can help you feel more grounded and reduce stress. Free Mindfulness & Meditation Apps More about mindfulness Links to free apps for meditation and mindfulness

7. Take care of yourself

Make sure to prioritize self-care. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as reading a book, listening to music, taking a warm bath, or pursuing a hobby. These activities can help you relax and recharge.

8. Break tasks into smaller steps

Big tasks can feel overwhelming and increase stress. Break them down into smaller, manageable steps. Set achievable goals for each step and celebrate your progress along the way. Practice examples:

  • Example 1: Big test coming up

    - Ask teacher for any clarification needed

  • - Set time each day to study

Example 2: Starting a healthier lifestyle - Healthy food - Create daily exercise schedule   Example 3:  Sports tryouts coming up - Practice with friend on team - Daily exercise schedule

9. Take breaks from screens

Spending too much time on screens can add to your stress levels. Take regular breaks to rest your eyes and do other activities you enjoy, like playing a board game, drawing, or spending time outdoors. Graphs - screentime associated with depression/anxiety  

10. Express yourself creatively

Find creative outlets to express your emotions, like writing in a journal, drawing, painting, or playing an instrument. These activities can be therapeutic and help you process your feelings.  


Find what works best for you!

These tips are meant to provide general guidance, and it's important to find what works best for you individually. You're not alone, and there are people who care and want to support you through difficult times. Always Remember... You are not alone.  It's okay to ask for help. If stress feels overwhelming or persists for a long time, reach out to a school counselor, teacher, or mental health professional. They can provide guidance and support to help you manage your stress.