When we perceive a situation as difficult or painful, changes occur in our minds and bodies to prepare us to respond to danger.
This “fight, flight, or freeze” response includes faster heart and breathing rate, increased blood to muscles of arms and legs, cold or clammy hands and feet, upset stomach and/or a sense of dread.
Stress also often accompanies the feeling of being “out of control” and we can become overwhelmed. When it happens, inadequately managed stress can lead to anxiety, withdrawal/isolation, aggression, physical illness, or coping with substances, such as drug and/or alcohol use.
Common sources of stress for children, teens, and adults include:
- School and work demands and frustrations
- Changes in our bodies due to puberty or aging
- Problems with socialization/feeling like an “outsider”
- Feeling “not good enough”
- Unsafe living environment/neighborhood
- Separation or divorce
- Chronic illness
- Death of a loved one
- Relocation to new home, school and job
- Taking on too many activities or having too high expectations
- Financial problems