Dealing with teen stress

A young heart patient sits alone in a crowded room

Stress isn’t a direct risk factor for heart disease in teenagers, but how you deal with it can lead to negative lifestyle choices.

Stress is a word people use for the mixture of horrible feelings they get when everything seems too much. It might be triggered by school work, tests or exams, bullying, or problems with friends or family. 

There’s a difference between feeling low and feeling stressed. Stress can make you feel sad, irritable and distracted. But stress isn’t just in the mind, it can affect you physically too. Everyone reacts differently to stress. These are a few signs you might be stressed:

  • you feel tired, weak, and have trouble sleeping
  • loss of appetite, or eating much more than normal
  • find it difficult to concentrate
  • you have tight, knotty feelings in your stomach
  • avoiding relationships or going out

Heart conditions and stress

If you have a heart condition, being stressed could cause you more problems, because you're more likely to make choices which can be bad for your health (such as eating unhealthy foods, smoking or drinking too much alcohol).

To help keep your heart healthy, you need to take care of your body and your mind. Sometimes this can seem easier said than done. Start by thinking about which areas of your life are most stressful, this is the first step to finding ways to cope with them and putting you back in control.

What can you do about stress? 

Just small changes can make a really big difference. Try to get a handle on stress by:

  • talking things through with someone you trust
  • find something that relaxes you – maybe sketching or painting, a hot bath, or listening to music
  • eating well
  • doing regular physical activity that you enjoy
  • asking your doctor for help and further information

If you can, avoid things that make you stressed. For example, if you're having a problem with friends or family, try and calmly talk about any issues with them before they get any bigger.

If you can't avoid the things that are making you stressed, see if you can change your attitude towards the problem. Try taking a step back, and switching any negative thoughts like "I'm useless" with more positive ones like "there are lots of things I am good at".

Do you want to meet other young people like you?

Are you aged between 13 and 19 with a heart condition and living in the UK? You can join [email protected] absolutely free!

[email protected] is a great way to get help and support and meet other young heart patients at great events.

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