Letting Go of Stress: A Kid’s Guide to Putting Worry in Its Place

Written by J.S. Jackson | Illustrated by R.W. Alley

What Is Stress?
Stress is a feeling that happens to almost everyone from time to time. It’s a nervous feeling that you usually get when you’re worried about something. Stress sometimes occurs when something is going to happen that is new or unfamiliar. Remember how the first day of school was? You were pretty nervous, right? You didn’t know who your classmates were going to be. Those unknown things can make you feel stress. But it doesn’t take long to get to know everybody in your class, your new teacher, and the things you’re going to be studying. Before long, your “first day of school” stress is pretty much gone.

What Causes Stress?
Stress can come from many people and many places. It can also come from the times we have disagreements with other people. Learning how to resolve these disagreements is an important part of learning how to get along with people… in your family, in your neighborhood, in your school, and in every part of life. Can you think of some things that cause you stress? Sometimes if you make a list and share it with a parent or teacher, it can help make the stress less.

Families Can Feel Stress
In families, people sometimes disagree and this can cause stress. Our families are where we learn to get along with each other, cooperate, and have fun. We all need different things and like different things. Does everyone want to watch the same TV shows at the same time? Does everyone like the same toys or dolls or games? Sometimes it can be very hard to share, even though we know we should. But when we learn to be more patient and share, it can make a big difference in the stress level in any home.

Set Rules for Your Family
Setting “Family Rules” is a good way to help everyone in your family to get along. When you feel stress because of someone in your family, you can always ask your parents, grandparents, and other adults to help you know what to do when there is a stressful situation in your family.

School Can Be Stressful
School can be a place where you might feel stress. Your fellow students can be stress-makers by teasing or bullying in class or on the playground. Do you feel stress because students are teasing or bullying you? If you feel stressed because of other students, ask an adult you trust for help. School stress also can come from worrying about homework assignments or grades or tests. If you’re honestly doing your best, no one can ask for more and there’s no need for you to worry!

Talk About Your Schedule
Do you sometimes feel like you have too many things to do in a day? Do you miss having free time to play with your friends, or draw and read… to do whatever it is that you want to do? If you ever get too busy or you’re feeling sad or stressed out, tell your parents and the adults who help you make your schedule. And remember, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with doing nothing.

Make Time for Friends
Our friends can help us when we feel stress. You often share the same likes and dislikes. You laugh a lot and you play a lot. Many of the games you play require different fun types of exercise. Jumping rope, climbing jungle gyms, playing dodgeball, taking hikes, swimming. Sometimes you feel like you could do it all day. No matter what you and your friends do, you’re all getting exercise. Doctors say exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of your stress. So while you’re having fun playing with your friends, you’re also helping yourself to be happier and more stress-free.

Make Time for Yourself—Quiet Time
One of the best ways of dealing with stress is to learn how to relax. There are many ways to do this. Try to find a quiet place where no one will disturb you. (But it’s okay if they do.) Sit down comfortably. Close your eyes. Then, try to think of what or who is stressing you out. Once you have it, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. If you can do this for five or ten minutes, your stress level should become smaller.

Dance Stress Away
Another way to relax is by dancing. One of the things people all over the world have done to make themselves feel better is to dance. It may seem silly at first, but it can be fun. Just play a song that has a happy beat. You can dance all by yourself, with a close friend, your brother or sister, or with a whole bunch of people. Dancing is also very good exercise! Remember, there are no wrong moves or right moves. Be as silly as you like. Try different songs. Give your dances a silly name. Have fun!

It’s OK to Ask for Help
When your knees keep shaking and you can’t chase away the butterflies in your tummy, it’s always a good idea to talk to someone you trust. This can be a guidance counselor or a nurse at your school. It can be a pastor or a youth minister at your church. It can be a parent or close relative. It should be someone you trust and aren’t afraid to open up with. Sometimes, just having someone listen to what you have to say and be understanding can make a big difference in how you feel.

Talk to God
Many people think one of the best ways to get rid of stress is by asking for God to help you. Many people call this “praying,” but you could call it “talking to God.” What you say doesn’t have to be fancy or formal. God is always there for you to talk to. Nobody listens better and nobody loves you more.

Go to the Moon!
Using your imagination can be a fun way of “gaining perspective” on stressful situations. Imagine yourself flying off the earth into space and going to the moon. While you’re standing on the moon, look back at Planet Earth. There are billions of people down there with gazillions of things that are causing them stress. Maybe now the problems that are causing you stress might not seem so big! This can also help us to remember that we aren’t alone. There is a whole world of people who can help you and support you, because they understand what you are going through.

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