Clair’s Declassified Stress Survival Guide
I used to have a very hard time going to sleep. Before I could fall asleep, I had to replay the day in my head and let my brain go wild for hours.
I also had a hard time staying asleep.
Around 4 or 5am, I would wake up sweating with stomach pain and run immediately to the bathroom and dry-heave for at least an hour.
All of these symptoms of anxiety began when I was 5 years old. That is kindergarten, my friends. Why did I have anxiety issues in kindergarten? Why did these issues persist almost every night until I was in 2nd grade?
1. Remember that you are not alone!
Although stress at such a young age can feel very isolating, it is becoming more and more common in young girls. I began to fixate, specifically, on my future at age 5 but I would have loved if someone told me that everyone worries about the future at sometime in their lives. Whether it is in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or after college, girls stress over their futures.
Stress can manifest itself in more than just looking ahead into your future. Friends, relationships, body image, jobs, money, the list goes on! That’s why it is so important to learn about coping with your specific stress as early as you can.
2. Find the solution that works for you!
Thankfully, my parents worked with me to find a solution to my stress that I could maintain on my own. Every day, my parents would put a yoga tape in the VCR (that’s, like, the really old version of a DVD player) and I would go through the poses with the instructor for an hour. My mom would even do them with me on the weekends.
However, as a kindergartener, staying still and calm wasn’t really something I enjoyed so I searched for another outlet.
Once I learned, I began biking religiously. For around 2 hours a day, I would ride up and down my neighborhood streets until my legs felt like jello. By 2nd grade, I had also really gotten into exploring music outside of Spice Girls, ABBA, and Queen. I clipped my portable radio player (like, before apps, Pandora, and Spotify) to the back of my bike and I was set.
Ultimately, I think it was music that saved me from my anxiety attacks. At that age, I just needed to escape and burn all of the energy off that I used to focus on my anxiety. Biking was my energy-burner and music was my escape route.
3. Use your resources!
Ultimately, my parents were my resource but the Girls Empowerment Network offers amazing programs to help the girls in your life understand their individual stress levels and how to find the solution that works for them.
For 4th-5th grade girls
ClubGEN is a weekly afterschool program that covers topics that equip girls with the skills and awareness they need to navigate the pressures of the teen years that are upon them. These topics include stress management, body image, media literacy, positive self talk, puberty, bullying, career exploration, confidence, financial literacy, goal setting, healthy eating and physical fitness, healthy relationships, substance abuse, and team building.
For 4th-7th grade girls
CampGEN is a series of fun, interactive workshops during week long sessions that are designed to help girls feel more confident as they navigate girlhood. Girls will walk away with new skills, new friendships, and new mentors. Recently, we had a campGEN called Calm, Cool and Creative, where girls explored different ways to face stress and anxiety.
Read about our intern, Clarissa’s, experience at Calm, Cool, and Creative here.
For 3rd-12th grade girls
Workshops are discussion and activity-based programs that address the challenges that girls are facing. These programs can be requested online and even have a workshop solely focused on stress management!
4. Now go get ‘em!