How to deal with stress

How to deal with stress

Friday, 24 September 2021

The last couple of years have turned people’s plans upside down. Young people, in particular, have been heavily impacted. 

Job insecurity and uncertainty about the future can lead to challenging situations. Stress is one of those words we use so often it has almost lost its meaning.

This article covers:

What is stress?

Stress is a signal that our body or mind gives us. It lets us know that something is not great and needs to be looked at.

Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol give the physical boost we need to deal with a threat: either ‘fight or flight’.

Stress can cause a physical reaction: our body tenses and our heart rate speeds up.

When is stress good and when is it bad?

When young people come to Jigsaw with feelings of stress, we say it’s not possible to completely rid your life of it. But, it is possible to better manage, and reduce your stress levels.

Stress is your body trying to tell you something so learning to listen to it is a good start:


Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, a little bit of stress can be helpful.You get the energy boost to tackle two hours of trigonometry questions or the adrenaline to deal with a new or unfamiliar situation.

Too much stress can also cause us to freeze. Imagine  there’s a big exam in a few days and all you can do is stare at the cover of your books. You’re frozen because you don’t know where to start. To get away from the feelings of stress, you look at YouTube instead. Sound familiar?

Stress rarely appears alone. You might also be feeling down, anxious, angry, irritable, overwhelmed or overloaded. Stress can interfere with our sleep and leave us lacking motivation. It may also make it difficult to concentrate.

What causes stress

When we can’t identify what’s stressing us out, then we don’t feel able to change anything.

We are rarely stressed about just one thing. Usually, it’s a combination of a few things at once:

  • Exams or pressure from teachers or our parents/guardians
  • Arguments at home or a chaotic house 
  • Worries or stress about friends or friendship groups.

Stress can build up and affect our body and mind. Your thoughts become ‘I can’t manage what is being asked of me’.

Discover what is really bothering you

Getting in tune with yourself is the first and most essential step for dealing with stress.

Think of stress as an alert telling you there are parts of your life that might need changing. To defuse this alert, you’ll need to work out what’s triggering it.

This sounds simple. But often we are unaware (or afraid to admit) how much a relationship, job, person is stressing us.

Be your own stress detective

If you find that your relationship with a family member, friend or colleague is becoming difficult, ask yourself why you are so affected by them. Setting and keeping boundaries for ourselves can protect us from being hurt by others.

When you feel overwhelmed

You may feel overwhelmed and are convinced everything is stressing you out. If this sounds familiar, get yourself a special notebook and record everything you do throughout the day. Next to the action you took, write down how stressed you feel on a rating of one to 10. If you are struggling to stay motivated during these times, goal setting can be useful to give us a sense of direction.

Patterns will emerge after a few days. You might discover that deadlines or exams always set you off, or dealing with a certain person. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed due to changes in circumstance, be kind to yourself.


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Jigsaw Live Chat

If you have been having difficulty dealing with a breakup, talk to one of our clinicians about it through our text-based live chat.

Tips for dealing with stress

Talk it out

Saying out loud how you’re feeling to someone else can make a huge difference. This could be with a friend, parent, counsellor or teacher.

They don’t have to have all the answers (in fact, they probably won’t). But talking about what’s stressing you will help you find your own solutions.

You might also like to try Jigsaw Live Chat. Talk to our online team via webchat about what is going on for you and different ways to manage it.

Write it all down

This might seem daunting, but your problems will seem a lot less overwhelming when they’re all out on the page. You can keep a journal and burn the pages afterwards if you want to.

Break things down into manageable chunks

Maybe your room has been in a mess for months and it just seems too much to manage. If you get a to-do list and write ‘clean room’, it’ll be too daunting to even start. Instead, start with something manageable, like ‘do washing’, or ‘de-clutter desk’.

Achieving a simple task (and ticking it off the to-do list) gives us a little boost. This often reduces our stress and motivates us to tackle other manageable tasks. Before we know it, what once seemed like a task too big to start, is done.

Watch that inner voice

Notice how you talk to yourself. Make sure you’re not being overly critical, which will make you more stressed.

Find time – and ways – to relax

There are countless ways to unwind your body and mind. Find out what works for you and schedule it into your week. It could be running, flicking through a magazine, deep breathing, or colouring books.


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