We have all been there - you enter a room, sweat is beading on your forehead (and gathering in your pits ..... those underarm sweat stains are not fun), your brain is so scattered you can barely focus on putting one foot in front of the other, and your heart is beating so erratically ... you wonder if you should run and hide, or pretend your gall bladder has just burst. This scenario could be happening anywhere, it could be as you enter an exam room, the sports field, at the shops, in an interview, it is anywhere where you feel that stress response and you can't control your physiological reactions, let alone that little voice in the back of your head that throws negative insults your way.
It is awful.
But like I said, we have all been there, I have been there, even our parents, teachers, and boss's have been there. Recognising this will hopefully help you when you are in the midst of your own stress response, but also, hopefully, it will help you help other's when you see them in the midst of a stress response. Empathy is the key, and when you remember how awful it is to feel stressed you can take the steps to help your friends deal and, at the same time, feel great about yourself! (Okay, I am not being cheeky with selfish aspect here - it is proven that helping others can help yourself by reducing your own stress levels).
So what can you do when you recognise that your friend/s may be stressed and not coping so well with life at the moment?
1. Be open-minded: Sometimes what a friend is finding stressful is something that doesn't worry you at all, so be open to the very real fact that anxiety and stress is caused by different things. Listen to your friend, don't belittle or joke about how they are feeling, because what they are feeling is very real to them.
2. Distract them: Know any good jokes? Or funny stories? Have a movie you want to go see? Or do you have time to pop some music on and dance in the kitchen? (a particular favourite of mine!). Sometimes, all you need to do to help ease a friend's stressful moment, is to distract them, break the pattern that is causing the stress. Are you about to head into a very important exam, tell your friend a joke, pull a face, and make them laugh like there's no tomorrow - it helps! Trust me!
3. Get into Nature: Taking a walk in the woods, or even sitting at the park, or beach, can be a huge help when someone is feeling stressed. So suggest that you go for a walk with your friend, organise a day out to the beach, or have an adventure across the countryside. Nature heals, it has been proven that nature lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and contributes to your emotional and physical wellbeing.
So let me know if you try any of these tips out, and what things you have found worked for, not just your own stress, but your friend's as well.
p.s. My programme I have co-founded with 2 amazing lady's, RWS| Resilience Wellbeing Success, works with primary aged pupils to give them the skills to deal with stressful situations (such as SATS exams!!), if you know of a school that would benefit, please put them in touch!
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright