Stress management is a skill

Stress management can be practiced and youth can gain important skills to help them learn how to work with positive and negative stress.

Eat right, make sure you exercise, don’t forget to get enough sleep, don’t stress out! We know that eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep are important factors to maintaining a healthy mind and body, but sometimes isn’t that easier said than done? We know that life isn’t simple and we often experience that six-letter word: Stress. Sometimes the pressure of knowing we should eat right, exercise and get enough sleep can be stressful enough on its own.

We often think about stress in a negative way, but there are stresses in our lives that can be positive too. There are times that we can easily turn negative stress into positive stress. In 4-H Youth Development, we like to think about stress management as a skill that can be targeted and worked on. In other words, stress management can be practiced and youth can gain important skills to help them learn how to work with the positive and negative stresses they will inevitably encounter as they mature and grow older. For information about other life skills 4-H targets review the Targeting Life Skills Model from Iowa State University.

According to the Developing Youth Curriculum Using the Targeting Life Skills Model: Incorporating Developmentally Appropriate Learning Opportunities to Assess Impact of Life Skill Development, as staff and volunteers, adults work with youth to help them work on the skill of stress management by:

  • Understanding the meaning of stress
  • Recognizing the signs of stress
  • Identifying personal stressors
  • Learning causes of good and bad stress
  • Learning consequences of stress
  • Identifying support persons to help with stressful situations
  • Setting goals to reduce, and actually reducing, stress in one’s life

Don’t forget that as adults, 4-H volunteers or staff, we are charged with helping youth to “Make the Best Better.” However, it’s still important to be a role model and show youth the behaviors we expect them to learn. Michigan State University Extension says that it is­­­­ important to make sure you eat right, exercise and get enough sleep so you have the energy to work with youth and target life skills.

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