About the Author
R. W. Alley is the illustrator for the popular Abbey Press adult series of Elf-help books, as well as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island, with his wife, daughter, and son. See a wide variety of his works at: www.rwalley.com.
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Getting Out of a Stress Mess!
A Guide for Kids
By Michaelene Mundy, R. W. Alley
Abbey PressCopyright © 2000 Michaelene Mundy
All rights reserved.
What Is Stress?
Stress is a feeling of being "under pressure"—sort of like a pot of water boiling on the stove. The pot actually shakes, and you can hear the lid rattle. Both adults and kids can get this kind of "pressured" feeling.
Stress usually happens when there's too much of something going on—like too many things changing at once ... or too much noise ... too much fighting ... or too much homework.
Stress can also happen when there's too little of something—too little time to practice or to get to a game ... not enough rest or quiet ... or people thinking you're too little to be able to do things.
What Does Stress Feel Like?
Stress can feel like worry. You may be afraid that you will disappoint your mom, dad, or coach unless you win the race or hit a home run. You might want to win a game or a contest so much that you feel very nervous.
Stress can also feel like sadness. You may be sad that something in your life is changing, but you can't do anything about it. Your stomach might hurt and you might even feel "shaky."
Different kids act in different ways when they are under stress. You may feel tired and slowed down, or nervous and restless. You might get in more fights with your brother or sister, or have trouble at school. Or you might feel like just being alone.
What Gives YOU Stress?
Do you feel stressed when people are watching you perform at school or at a sports event? Do you feel nervous because you want to do really well so your parents will be proud of you?
Kids can get stressed at times that might surprise you—happy times like Christmas, or on vacation, or during a weekend at Grandma's. Stress can happen at times like these because you get extra excited and because your daily routine is changed.
Feeling Stressed Without Knowing Why
If you could wish for anything in the world, what would it be? Your wish can give you a clue about what is making you feel stressed.
Maybe you wish that you never have to go to school again. Is that because there is something about school that's really hard for you? Your parents and teacher can help you figure out what's bothering you and how to make it easier for you.
Some Stress Is Normal
You cannot wave a magic wand and make stress go away forever, but you can learn how to handle it.
The first step is to know that it's okay to feel stress. You are not the only person who gets tense and nervous about things. Your friends do, too, and so do adults. Ask others what they do to help themselves relax.
It is also okay not to be perfect. Parents know it takes courage just to be on stage or step up to bat. They really mean it when they say they are proud of you just for trying. You don't have to be a star or hit a home run. No matter how you do, they will still love you.
Give Yourself a Break Today
If you're feeling stressed, it helps to relax. When you relax, you feel rested, peaceful, and comfortable.
Things that you enjoy doing are good ways to relax—maybe riding a bike, reading a book, or going for a walk. What makes you feel relaxed?
Think about what you would do if school were suddenly called off because of snow. Would you get out your construction set and build something? Ask someone to play a board game? Have popcorn and watch a movie? Rearrange your room? Why not do that relaxing, fun thing right now?
Express Your Stress!
It really helps to admit you are feeling stress and to talk with someone about it. You may be surprised how much better you feel just from saying, "I feel stressed!"
If you are worried about something coming up— like a test, big game, or trip to the doctor—tell a parent. Talk with someone who has been through this same kind of thing before and ask what to expect. The more you know, the less nervous you will be.
Express your stress to God, too. God wants to hear what's on your mind. You can talk to God about what is bothering you, no matter what it is. God loves you and wants to help your heart feel peaceful.
Too Much to Do?
It's great to have the chance to do sports and other activities. But if your free time is totally filled up with lessons, practices, or games, you don't have time to just "be a kid." You need "ME" time, when you can do what YOU want to do.
Your parents might think you enjoy all your activities, especially if you are trying hard to make them proud of you. But if you are feeling too busy, you should tell them.
Together you can talk about whether you need to cut back on your activities. You don't have to stop doing everything. Cutting back on just one thing may give you the time you need to relax.
Excerpted from Getting Out of a Stress Mess! by Michaelene Mundy, R. W. Alley. Copyright © 2000 Michaelene Mundy. Excerpted by permission of Abbey Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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