Stress isn’t reserved for a certain age

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“You’re too young to be stressed!” This has got to be one of the most irritating, fist clenching things to be told when you feel like stress is your life. I read a lot about anxiety and depression from brave people who feel they can share their experiences, but not a great deal about stress. Stress has been a constant factor in my life since I was about 21. It stems mostly from dealing with an unpredictable chronic illness and feeling constantly on edge about my health, but along the way other things have come along and joined the stress party.

I could definitely do more to deal with my stress levels. I know there are things I do that directly contribute to making myself worse, but it’s hard to break the cycle. Sometimes I feel like stress feeds me. It adds fuel to my productivity fire and that’s definitely not healthy. I used to buckle under stress and resort to sitting in a heap ignoring my problems, playing Words With Friends, or laying under a duvet sadly googling symptoms and convincing myself death was coming. Not really a good way to live your life, I can tell you.

I was getting some blood tests done last year and the nurse had to stop just before she attempted it to make me relax my posture a bit. Blood tests are hardly joyous activities, so she assumed that I was scared, but I wasn’t. I have no fear of needles and after having about as many medical examinations and tests as hot meals over the past few years, I’m not remotely bothered by having blood taken. I was just stressed. She chatted to me as she was filling up tubes with my red stuff, and asked me if I was having a busy time at work, then pointed out I was chewing my lip. “You seem really stressed sweetheart, try to take some time to debrief yourself and relax” were her (I think fairly accurate) parting words to me.

The problem is, Even though I’m 26, and most certainly a fully-fledged adult whether I like it or not, I still get asked what I have to be stressed about. it’s a big sweeping statement for someone to tell you that you’re fine or worried over nothing when they don’t live in your head. Lately, I’ve had plenty of reasons to stress due to trying to buy a house, and most people are sympathetic to the fact that it’s a pretty heinous task and understandably stressful, but being told I’m too young ‘to be stressed out’ or ‘what do you really have to stress about, you don’t even have kids yet!’ really pushes my anger buttons.

Going out and having a good time, socialising, being busy, having hobbies and maintaining a good job doesn’t mean you can’t be stressed. Being young, having fun and seemingly appearing like a normal twenty-something person doesn’t mean you can’t also be suffering with a huge weight on your shoulders.

Young people deal with a lot of stress. If anything, the technology-heavy world we live in where everything is in your face, on a phone screen and going at a hundred miles an hour, probably mean it’s worse than ever. In a world where buying your home or renting a reasonable, fit-for-purpose space to live in costs more than most people can afford or dream of affording, there’s plenty of reasons for young people to feel the strain. Worrying about a future where you have the life you want in an extremely tough climate is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s plenty of disillusionment going on in the world with young people, which unless you live under a rock you’ll be full aware of.

I want to make 2017 a much better year for getting stress under control, because this has not been a good year for controlling the amount I feel like a walking ball of rage and worry. If you need to try and achieve the same, I feel your pain and you have every right to feel stressed and feel you need to recover as the next person, regardless of if you’re 16 or 46. Long live stress balls.

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