A Taste Berry Teen's Guide to Managing the Stress and Pressures of Life

Overview

Like its predecessors in this phenomenal series, this new addition tackles the pressures of being a teen through a combination of stories and compassionate wisdom provided by the mother/daughter team of
Bettie and Jennifer Youngs.

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Overview

Like its predecessors in this phenomenal series, this new addition tackles the pressures of being a teen through a combination of stories and compassionate wisdom provided by the mother/daughter team of
Bettie and Jennifer Youngs.

In A Taste-Berry Teen's Guide to Managing the Stress and Pressures of
Life
,
teens will learn how to:

  • Understand what stress is-and isn't
  • Examine how they respond to stressful situations and how effective it is
  • Determine how stress affects their physical and emotional behavior
  • Minimize stress and stay cool under pressure through some terrific (and time-tested) intervention and prevention strategies
  • Get through stressful situations and use them to their advantage.

Stories written by teens demonstrate the issues that are a source of stress for them, including schoolwork, dating, moving, parents' divorce, weight problems and sexual identity. To cope with these problems, the author suggests three skills for helping teens "think" their way through stressful times.
Practical stress-busting techniques are also provided in each chapter.

A Taste-Berry Teen's Guide to Managing the Stress and Pressures of Life is sure to be the next big success in this extraordinary teen series.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
The popular mother/daughter team of Bettie B. Youngs, PhD, EdD, and Jennifer Leigh Youngs author this interactive book that is augmented by personal contributions from teens themselves. The integration of these experiences and observations of their peers creates a comfortably familiar common ground that can make it an appealing read for YAs through the senior high school level. Young persons are also provided with the valuable opportunity to put their emotions into visible, addressable, b/w order by filling in their own personal responses to the presented situational questions on the blank lines provided on those pages. Divided into seven parts, this book begins with "Teen Talk," where firsthand accounts from YAs serve to introduce some of the major issues that are stressing them today. It follows with divisions that define stress, relate reactions to stress, teach verbal and mental coping skills, and present the positive potential to be found in support systems. It concludes with a look at the contributing value of sleep, nutrition, and the use of relaxation skills in a final prevention and intervention section. Selections of titles for further reading as well as toll-free phone numbers for suggested resource groups are included at the back of the book. No index is provided, but the detailed subject breakdown and page listings in the Contents allow for some ease of referencing. An excellent selection for public, school, and personal library. Category: Health & Sex Education. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, HCI, 310p. bibliog., $12.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Linda Piwowarczyk; Romeoville, IL SOURCE:KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
VOYA
This fifth book in the Taste-Berry series, a Chicken Soup look-alike, is a mixed bag. It provides clear guidelines on the nature of stress, what causes it, how to identify it, and how to cope with it. It advises wisely, "While you can't always control or change the event, how you respond is under your control." The format, however, is confusing. Seventeen appealing teen-written personal-experience essays appear up front, followed by chapters of various lengths containing didactic instructional material, miscellaneous worksheets, and teen essays sandwiched in. Unless a reader has a compelling interest in stress, he or she is apt to skip the instruction, pick out the few essays, and close the book. The chapters are organized into seven parts covering stress particular to teens, understanding the many personalities of stress, coping skills, and more. There is an epilogue, a list of suggested resources including hot line numbers, and a reading list, but no Web sites. The authors urge clean living, drug avoidance, and positive thinking to manage stress: "Make a decision to see life from the cup half-full point of view." Despite the liberal use of terms chosen for teen identification—teenville, joggin' your noggin, and the land of Overwhelm—the book, although not blatantly preachy, is teachy. Liberally funded libraries where mental self-help or Taste-Berry books are popular might find this guide a worthwhile purchase. Further Reading. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, HealthCommunications Inc., 320p, $12.95 Trade pb. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Mary E. Heslin
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558749320
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 534,751
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D. and her daughter, Jennifer Leigh Youngs, coauthored the runaway bestsellers, Taste Berries for Teens, More Taste Berries for Teens, and a companion journal. Bettie Youngs has appeared on CNN, NBC Nightly News and Oprah. Her acclaimed books include Safeguarding Your Teenager from the Dragons of Life; Taste-Berry Tales; the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Gifts of the Heart; and the award-winning Values from the Heartland.

Jennifer Leigh Youngs is the author of Feeling Great, Looking Hot and Loving Yourself; Goal-Setting Skills for Young Adults; and A Stress-Management Guide for Teens.

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Read an Excerpt

Part II

Understanding the Many "Personalities" of Stress


We suffer more in imagination than in reality.

Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium

Stress. We hear the word and use it a great deal, but what is it really? If someone asked you to define stress, what would you say? Maybe you associate it with events like taking a final exam; the adrenaline rush of being the focus of attention at an important competition in a sports activity, or being on center-stage during a school play or you've got the closing arguments in your school's debate club city championship. Maybe it's that sense of anxiety you have when you need to "face up," "square off," "confront" or "level" with someone, such as with a teacher or your parents because you've broken a promise or not followed through on a certain commitment. Maybe it's that sinking feeling of having an argument with a best friend or the nervousness of not being quite dressed and ready for the date of your dreamsùwho is knocking on your door.

While situations such as these can certainly cause an "I'm stressed" response, they are just that: a situation, an event, a happening. While you can't always control or change the event (it's your turn to get up and give that oral report in front of the class), how you respond is under your control. For instance, in the case of the oral report, you can be as prepared as you can possibly be; you can start your day by having a good night's rest, eating a good breakfast, and as an extra confidence boost, looking especially cool that day. Stress, on the other hand, is its own agenda: it is the body's physical, mental and chemical reaction to the circumstances you're facing. No matter what kind of stress-creating factor it is that you're facingùyour first kiss, or facing a near head-on collision with a fellow classmate as you make a mad dash to get to classùthe same reactions go off in your body. This is good: your body readies itself to deal with the situation at hand. If, for example, you step off a curb and suddenly an unexpected car wheels around a corner and nearly hits you, it's highly likely that within the flash of a instant, your body will command you to leap out of the way.

And of course, stress can overwhelm you to the point of not being effective. If, for example, you study up for an important test, but on the day of the test you are not nervous about taking it, it's possible that you draw a blank, not remembering even the most easy and common facts! So, it's important to learn all you can about coping with stress in positive ways and not let it get the best of you.

Consider this unit the Cliff Notes on Stress. Throughout the next few chapters, you'll learn all about the nature of stress, its pros and cons and how you can use stress to your advantage. You'll learn what you can do when your stress gets too high, and what you can do to create a little stress in your life so that things get exciting! And being the taste berry that you are, you know that informationùlike stressùis powerful!

What is Stress

If someone asked you to define stress, what would you say? Some teens define it as confusion, turmoil, even excitement. Perhaps LaToya experienced all three of these when the boy of her dreams became her first love, then dropped her for her best friend, and then dropped her now "ex" best friend because he wanted LaToya back, then. . . .

Stuck in the Crossfire

Kevin Larson, a guy I liked for nearly three whole months before he even noticed I was alive (even though I'd made it very obvious to him the whole time!) finally asked me out! He was my very first love.

I thought everything was just great between us. We were boyfriend and girlfriend for four months when suddenly he just dropped me for my very best friend, Karina Wells. My best friend! I'd seen that happen to others, but it never crosses your mind that it will happen to you. Well, it did.

When we broke up, I cried and cried. I was sad, mad, confused, miserable without him and indignant, too, and not above throwing a tantrum or two. But Kevin acted like he didn't care at all about my feelings. He paid no attention to me, just went on about his business, happy as a clam about his new girlfriend, my (and now "ex") friend.

Then, just two weeks later, just out of the blue, Kevin Larson broke up with his newest sweetie Karina Wells. This I found out when he handed me a letter as we passed each other in the hall one day. I was surprised to get a letter, and though I did my best to act like I could have cared less about receiving it from him, I made a straight beeline into the girls' restroom as fast as I could so I could read the words written by the love of my lifeùeven if I was mad at him.

It was a great letter! Kevin told me that he loved me and only me and that he no longer wanted to be with Karina. I was thrilled of course, but still curious. I mean, did he really miss me so much and that was the reason he broke up with Karinaùor did she dump him? To tell you the truth, while I was relieved to have him say he wanted me back, I was a little confused, too! I mean, while I was happy that he broke up with Karina, there was the thing about his having dumped me in the first place. And, there was the matter of Kevin wanting us to get back together. Should I just go back, be sweet and tell him how much I missed him, or should I make him work really hard to get me back? All the other kids at school knew the full story, so I couldn't just go back without a fight and lose my self-respect. Should I tell him, "No way! Get lost. You had your chance!"? These are all really important things to consider. And besides, one of his good friends, Rick Torres, had been making eyes at me like he's interested in me, and Rick is pretty cool. Going out with Rick would be a great way to get back at Kevin. But then, my heart belongs to Kevin. . . .

As you can see, it's a tough decision I have to make, one that is being battled out between my heart and my head. I'm stuck in the crossfire, and boy is it stressful:

My heart: "You see! I told you Kevin loves you! Now we can stop aching so much."

My head: "Be careful. You know he left you for another girl."

My heart: "Oh, don't worry about that now. What's important is that he wants you back. And besides, you know how good it feels to have him ask you to come back to him."

My head: "Go slow. Your turmoil is sure proof it may not be right."

My heart: "But he wants YOU, YOU, YOU! Be happy, don't worry!"

My head: "A week ago he wanted Karina Wells."

My heart: "But now he wants you!"

My head: "Kevin double-timed you."

My heart: "Yes, but he can be so romantic and sweet."

My head: "He may do it again. Why risk getting hurt again?"

My heart: "Oh, I'm sure he'll never do it again. He said he loves me."

My head: "He's proven himself as someone you can't trust."

My heart: "But I miss him. My heart hurts when I'm not with him. I want him back."

My head: "Take your time; think it over."

My heart: "If you don't act fast, Teresa Amos will snatch him up! You saw her flirting with him."

My head: "He is a big flirt. I'm suggesting you don't go back."

My heart: "But I love him."

My head: "You're doing just fine without him."

My heart: "Love is a wonderful thing. You know how happy it makes me. . . ."

What a seesaw! It's been thirty-eight hours and fifty-five minutes since Kevin Larson asked me to get back together with him. And I'm still very stressed out, not knowing what to do!

LaToya Jones, 17

STRESS 101: Everything a Teen Should Know About What Stress Isùand Isn't

Have you ever picked out a someone "special," only to have someone else decide to "select" that person, too, and edge you out? Talk about stress!

Stress? What is stress?

Most people think stress is having to confront a particular unpleasant or tough situation. Technically, these anxiety-filled eventsùsuch as taking a big test, taking your driver's license test, asking out a certain someone or having an argument with a good friendùare called "stressors." The "wear and tear" they cause us is the "stress." Regardless of whether the stressor is a biochemical insult (such as using drugs or alcohol); a physical injury (such as getting in a fight or falling and breaking your wrist); or confronting something you fear or someone who makes you upset, the body responds the same: It is thrown into a "stress reaction."

This reaction has three distinct phases, each one named after that which it does, basically, in response to the incoming stressor. These are:

  1. The Alarm Phase,
  2. The Resistance Phase, and
  3. The Exhaustion Phase.

Stress can be a good thing, then, primarily because it acts as a bell or siren telling you it's time to take notice, it's time to do something, to make a change, to cope, or adapt. That your body is equipped to "feel" stress is remarkable; our job is to use the signals our bodies send out to alert us to the stage of stress it's in, and do something about the level of stress our body is experiencing. Here's what you should know about the nature of stress so that you can do just that.

"Whaaaaat's Uuuup?"

The "Alarm Phase" of Stress

This first phase of stress alerts the body to the stressful encounterùwarning it that it's time to make what we call a "fight-or-flight" response. In other words, the body gears up to take action. In stressful situations, messages from the brain trigger an outpouring of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Circulation speeds up, more energy-rich sugar appears in the blood, muscles tense, saliva decreases, eyes dilate, senses become more acute, the thyroid is activated and the body's muscle function is strengthened. At the same time, blood cells are released from storage depots into the circulation, and the digestive system goes into temporary inaction. All of these reactions are designed to help the body gear up for action. You may recognize some of the following alarm reaction responses from your own experience.

  1. Do you remember how your heart pounded when a speeding car wheeled around the corner, taking you by surprise and, luckily, just missed hitting you? In such situations, the heart speeds up and blood pressure soars, forcing blood to parts of your body that need it, thus carrying oxygen-rich blood to organs so they will be instantly fueled for actionùincluding the brain, so it can make wise decisions quickly!
  2. Can you remember trying to catch your breath after being frightened (like the time you were concentrating on an assignment or project and the wind caused the door to slam shut)? This reaction is caused by breathing faster to supply more oxygen for the needed muscles.
  3. Remember getting your "second wind" the time your best friend was involved in a confrontation and you rushed over to help? Or were you once surprised by your strength and endurance during an emergency when you could tell from your dog's yelp that your pet might need your help? The extra strength came from sugars and fats pouring into your bloodstream to provide fuel for quick energy.
  4. Do you use extra deodorant when you know you're going to be under pressure, like going in to interview for a part-time job that you really want to get, or asking someone special for a date when you are unsure if he or she will accept? You perspire more when under stress. This is because perspiring is how the body tries to cool down. The cooler your body, the more efficient its energy.
  5. Do you ever have a stiff neck after a long test or a really stressful day? In high-stress situations, muscles remain in a state of tenseness. Strained muscles are sore muscles.
  6. Have you ever had "knots" or "butterflies,"ùor "eagles"!ùin your stomach before taking an exam, or making a presentation in front of your classmates? Because it's more important to be alert and strong in the face of danger than to digest food, your digestion slows so blood can be directed to your muscles and brain.

"The Coast Is Clear!" The "Resistance/Adaptation Phase" of Stress

Almost immediately following a stressful event, the body attempts to return to its normal balance. We call returning to "normal" homeostasis, a state of calm and normal functioning. In this phase, the body works to reverse the process described in the alarm stage, but only if it believes that the stressful encounter is over. If the danger is over, the body works to restore a state of calm by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and core body temperature. But if your body senses that danger is still presentùyou are still greatly worried or frightenedùthen the body replaces its temporary and emergency responses with more fixed ones. Muscle tension is a good example of this kind of "replacement" response. This is not a good thing because a great deal of energy and body nutrients (such as potassium and vitamin B) are depleted. Such nutrients are needed to not only keep you healthy, but also to help you fend off stress.

Here's how this works: Let's say, for example, you are home alone and hear a strange creaky noise in your house. This noise frightens you. Always working for you, your body gears upùyour senses become keen, and your eyesight is sharpenedùjust in case you need to confront or flee the scene. Let's assume for a moment that the creaking noise continues every few minutes for the next couple of hours, making you so frightened that you decide to turn the lights on all over the house. You even go to your room, push your dresser in front of the door and sit quietly, your lamp in your hand in case the now larger-than-life "monster" decides to come down your hallway!

But now let's assume that while sitting in your room, you look up and discover that outdoors, the wind is blowing so strong that even the lamps in the street are swaying. Feeling relieved, you conclude that the creaking is obviously caused by strong windsùand this dispels the notion of anything sinister. Maybe you even laugh at the situation. For the rest of the evening, even though the creaking noise continues, you are no longer fearful. Having this information that you are safe, your brain triggers the "coast is clear" message, and your body returns to homeostasis, a state of relaxed normal.

But now let's assume that you never really are sure what is causing that frightening noise. If that were the case, you would remain in a heightened state of arousalùbecause of being fearfulùand your body would stay in a state of tense alert. This is when the body moves to the third phase, the exhaustion phase.

"Give Me a Break!"

The "Exhaustion Phase" of Stress

When your body is under a period of prolonged and intense stress, it gets exhausted. Sometimes this is referred to as "burnout." Do you feel drained after a big test? What if the test went on for three weeks? You can only imagine how exhausting that would be. This same sort of wear and tear happens when you are constantly worried about something, even something that slowly brewsùsuch as worrying about if your parents will get back together if they are separated, or if someone will find out that it was you who started a particular rumor or whether everything will go perfectly for your big party.

Prolonged stress can be dangerous over time because when you are under stress, your body uses your reserve of essential vitamins and minerals. Staying under stress for a long time means that these essential nutrients are drained from your body, and so your ability to withstand stress is lowered. If you are under stress for a long time (experts place this time period as anywhere from three weeks to three months), your supply of energy is used up, leaving you at risk for harming your bodily organs.

Since mind and body work in unison, when your body is tired, so is your emotional state of mind. One teen summed it up well when she said, "I was so exhausted from the constant stress I felt when my parents were divorcing that I reached a point where I felt drained and unable to 'get up' for my own school and personal life."

When you are in the midst of a long period of stress in your life, it's especially important to take care of yourself. Getting enough rest, eating the essential high-quality foods to restore your body and making sure you take the time to get the exercise your body needs to burn up excess stress, as well as relaxing the body so it can rejuvenate, are all very important steps to staying in good health (more on this in unit 7).


(c)2001. All rights reserved. Reprinted from A Taste Berry Teen's Guide to Managing Stress and Pressures of Lifeby Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D. and Jennifer Leigh Youngs. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: HCI, 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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