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Cartoon drawing of a boy who is stressedGot Butterflies? Game

Click on the squares to see how stress can make you feel and learn ways to handle it.



A box of squares containing cartoon drawings of children with different facial expressions. Click on a square to find out more Anger Change in Appetite Can't Concentrate Red Face Lot's of Sweat Overwhelmed Butterflies / Knots Headache Sleeplessness Cold Hands / Dry Mouth / Pounding Heart



Change in Appetite

Change in Appetite

You’ve just had a fight with your best friend and eating is the only thing that makes you feel better. Or, maybe you feel like you could never eat again.

While you might feel starved after a stressful event, your best friend might be grossed out by the thought of food. It just depends on how your body reacts to stress. If you get hungry, you may crave comfort foods (like chocolate, soda, or ice cream) because they increase the levels of a feel-good hormone called serotonin in the body. That means you probably will be in a better mood. Keep in mind that your body is just responding to the stress you are feeling. Your appetite will go back to normal.

On the other hand, your best friend might lose her appetite because the stress hormones make it difficult for her to eat. If you can’t eat when you are stressed, try something small - like peanut butter toast or a piece of fruit.

Check here for more ideas on how to take control of your stress level.

For more information about how long-term stress affects the body, click here.





Anger

Anger

Things are crazy right now and you just don’t have any patience with anyone. You feel angry at the drop of a hat.

Anger is a common response to stress. Often, people who have been locked into a stress cycle feel helpless and overwhelmed. Once this happens, they can get angry much more quickly and they lash out at anyone that gets in their way. In fact, everyone at one point or another gets angry because they are stressed out.

There are things that you can do to make stress easier to handle. Check here for more ideas on how to take control of your stress level.

For more information about how long-term stress affects the body, click here.


Sleeplessness

Sleeplessness

You’re exhausted but when you try to sleep, you lie awake for hours.

During the day, the levels of hormones that give you energy (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and those that help you stay happy (called dopamine) stay consistent. Towards the end of a normal day, these hormones begin to decrease and the hormone that helps you sleep (called serotonin) kicks into high gear. But if you’ve been trapped in a stress cycle, your body continues to produce those stress hormones from the adrenal glands ( see short-term stress for more details). They "rev" up your body and block out the serotonin, making it hard to sleep even if you feel tired.

Check here for more ideas on how to take control of you stress level.

For more information about how long term-stress affects the body, click here.


Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

You are starting to feel overwhelmed by it all and you don’t know if you can handle it.

Everyone has different ideas of what you should be doing. Sometimes it feels like you have so many different roles to play - good student, kid brother, sister, and friend - that things can seem out of control. It can make you tired just thinking about all you have to do! If you are feeling overwhelmed, you may notice that you can’t sleep - which makes you cranky. Then, you realize that you don’t feel like doing the things you like to do. You even might feel a little bit sad or anxious. You may begin to feel achy and tired all over. These are signs of being stressed out. Your stress response system is having a hard time turning off. Don’t panic - your body is just trying to tell you something. Take the time to figure out what is stressing you out and try to reduce the load you’re carrying.

Check here for more ideas on how to take control of your stress level.

For more information about how long-term stress affects the body, click here.


Headache

Headache

It’s been a long, tense day and you feel like you’ve got a rubber band squeezing around your head that just won’t stop.

Headaches are one of the most common signs of long-term stress. They can feel dull and achy - just like a rubber band tightening around your head. Although it is unclear what exactly causes these headaches, tight head and neck muscles are generally thought to be to blame. The chemical messengers in your brain get really busy and tell your blood vessels to get really small. This means that less blood is getting to your head - and that can cause a headache. You eyes, forehead, or the top of your head will be the first places you feel the pain.

Check here for more ideas on how to take control of your stress level.

For more information about how long-term stress affects the body, click here.


Cold Hands / Dry Mouth / Pounding Heart

Cold Hands / Dry Mouth / Pounding Heart

You’re about to take a big test or star in the school play and you’ve got cold hands, a mouth as dry as the desert, and your heart is pounding.

Cold Hands
Because you’re nervous and under pressure to perform your body has kicked the stress response into high gear. The stress hormones are shooting through your bloodstream and moving your blood away from your skin. This can give your heart and muscles more strength -- which you would really need if you were trying to run away from something. Because your blood is going to the places that really need it (like your heart, lungs, and liver) your hands can be left feeling like ice.

Dry Mouth
Once that stress response is running full force, your body only sends your blood to those parts that are necessary for you to survive. Lots of the fluid in your body goes to really important places (like your vital organs). This can leave your mouth as dry as the desert. Because your blood is busy nourishing your organs and not your muscles, your throat (which is made of muscle!) can tighten, making it hard to swallow.

Pounding Heart
When you’re starring in the school play, your body wants to give you what you need to succeed. That goes back to the fight or flight response. Your heart will start pounding to help you out! In fact, it is one of the first signs of the stress response. It happens because the release of stress hormones can speed up the flow of your blood by 300 - 400 percent! Your heart has to beat much faster to move all that blood to your organs and your muscles. This provides a burst of energy that can help you get through backstage jitters and the first few minutes of your play.

Everyone experiences stress. if you have any of these signs of stress, it means that your body is doing its job. Try to relax and check this out for some easy ways to cope with stress.

For more information about how short-term stress affects the body, click here.


Can't Concentrate

Can’t Concentrate

You have so much to do, but you just can’t seem to concentrate.

Got too much to do? You know how it goes - you have tons of homework to do RIGHT NOW. You have a game this afternoon, your little brother is annoying you, and your mom is insisting that you clean your room. But you can’t seem to focus on any one thing. You feel like you have no energy to finish all that you’ve got to do. This is because the stress hormones fill up your short-term memory with the immediate demands of dealing with stress. They also signal your brain to store the memory of the stressful event in long-term memory so you know how to respond next time something stressful happens. All of this means you are more likely to forget something, feel like you can’t concentrate, snap at your family or friends, or feel tongue-tied.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, bring things back into prospective with these easy ways get back into the groove.

For more information about how short-term stress affects the body, click here.


Red Face Lots o' Sweat

Red Face / Lots 'o Sweat

You’re about to make an election speech for student council and your face is beet red and you are sweaty all over.

Even though it’s just a speech and you aren’t planning on fighting off any tigers, remember what you are feeling is part of the fight or flight response. The body turns on it’s climate control system, raises its temperature and produces sweat - and lots of it. Originally, this helped your body cool in case you did need to run away from a horde of wild animals. Of course, now that your making your speech (which is the modern day equivelent of facing down those tigers and bears), you end up drenched in sweat and your face is the color of a fire engine.

To keep from feeling the heat during your next speech, check out this list of ways to cope with stress.

For more information about how short-term stress affects the body, click here.


Butterflies / Knots

Butterflies/Knots

It’s your first day back at school or maybe you’re starting a new school, and you’ve got butterflies in your stomach.

Stomachaches, or a queasy feeling, happen all the time in stressful situations like this. And it’s no wonder! Once the stress response kicks into high gear, one of the stress hormones (cortisol) shuts the stomach down and won’t let food digest. Or, it can put your digestive tract into high speed, making you feel nauseated.

Butterflies are normal, but check these easy ways to cope with stress so that they don’t get the best of you.

For more information about how short-term stress affects the body, click here.

 



 

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