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Stress Management

School happenings...

At the high school and elementary level, students were taught that stress comes from three sources - physical, environmental and thoughts. 70% of Wantagh high school students identified themselves as being slightly or moderately stressed. The cause of that stress was school and COVID. High school and elementary students worked on a plan to manage their stress with skills of writing lists, prioritizing, using a calendar, taking a break from social media, asking for help, organizing etc... The elementary buildings developed A Virtual Calm Space - A Resource for Teachers & Students, which is a resource to help calm the mind and body. At the middle school students worked on "connectedness" and identified supportive relationships in their lives. 

Stress is the emotional or physical reaction of feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of demands or pressure.

Stress functions like a warning system.When the brain perceives stress, it begins to flood the body with chemicals (i.e, epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol) that produce the fight-or-flight response. 

Stress is a normal part of life.  It can come from one’s environment (e.g., work pressure), body (e.g., illness or injury), or thoughts (e.g., “I can’t handle this.”) 

Common signs of stress

The impact of stress on the body varies and signs can be physical (e.g., disturbed sleep, restlessness, digestive upset, elevated blood pressure) mental (e.g., general negative attitude, difficulty concentrating, constant worry, forgetfulness, racing thoughts) emotional (e.g., irritation, sense of helplessness, frustration, depression, anxiety) and behavioral (minimizing contact with friends and family, failing to set aside time for relaxation). 

Why relief from stress is important

In addition the symptoms cited above, research from the Cleveland Clinic suggests that chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: Heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

Some facts

  • Stress is a highly subjective phenomenon.  For example, some people are afraid of public speaking while others enjoy it.         
  • Stress can be more of a factor in determining your physical age than the number of candles you blow out each year. 
  • Some “stress relievers” actually cause more stress.  Eating, drinking, or shopping to improve mood may provide temporary satisfaction but can create more problems in the long run.
  • While it is a myth that stress can cause hair to turn gray, it can cause hair loss.  Hair loss can begin up to three months after a stressful event.
  • A CNN poll reveals that the number one cause of stress in most countries is money. 
  • Research has shown that dark chocolate reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and other fight-flight hormones. Additionally, cocoa is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids.
  • Laughing lowers stress hormones (like cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline) and strengthens the immune system by releasing health-enhancing hormones.
  • Positive effects of stress have been identified.  For example, after handling a stressful situation, we gain confidence in our ability to handle future stress, may develop or strengthen skills  (e.g., patience) and be less likely to fear change.    

Stress Management


  • Take slow and deep breaths to calm bodily responses to stress. 
  • If possible, remove yourself from the stressful situation. Even a few minutes away can help you to think more clearly.   
  • Evaluate your stressful situation from a “big picture” point of view. Ask yourself, “How important is this?” and “Will this matter in the long run?” If the answer is no, it’s likely not worth your time and energy
  • Think creatively — What might someone you respect do in your situation?

Longer-Term Strategies

  • Factors that have been proven to buffer the impact of stress include maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and having at least a few close friendships.  In addition:    
  • Recognize how your body responds to stress and use them as cues that it is time to take care of yourself (i.e., reduce the stress). 
  • Prioritize your “to-do” list.  Decide what must get done and what can wait. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Pay attention to your self-talk: The way you talk to yourself matters. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and catastrophic predictions aren't helpful and only increase stress.  Learn to talk to yourself in a more realistic, compassionate manner. 
  • Sometimes the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace. This might be watching too much news or being constantly connected to your digital devices.
  • Express gratitude. Whether you're grateful for a sunny day or thankful you arrived at work safely, think about all the good things you have in life.  
  • Seek out expert advice when you experience severe physical and emotional symptoms.