CATHERINE BARRON '25
Finding a Peaceful Balance
The daily life of an average teenage girl can seem very simple and effortless, but in reality underneath the surface there is a complicated spectrum of emotions that every girl must experience and face. Every Saint Ursula student strives to put her best foot forward by creating a daily schedule of practice, extracurricular activities, school, work, and just being human and through that comes an added pressure to set goals and constantly work to achieve them. As a result every girl carries a burden of stress that can take a drastic toll on their mental health that can affect their performance, mood, and level of happiness. But these emotions are usually buried deep inside, so no one can witness the ongoing battles one may have to face. Through education and destigmatizing mental health girls can learn that they are not alone, and learn helpful ways to alleviate the overwhelming stress that may cause hardship in their everyday life.
Saint Ursula’s Director of Counseling Mrs. Roman explained that there is a clear difference to what can be viewed as healthy versus unhealthy stress. She said, "Every person can get triggered by different things in their daily life to feel stress, and healthy stress can have benefits like being a springboard into action, eliminating procrastination, and channeling motivation.”
In contrast, there are some very clear warning signals that can identify unhealthy stress in teenage girls. Mrs Roman explained, "Everyone has different ways of expressing and feeling stress," but she described that some common warning signals are “when a girl has a lack of sleep and when something that is usually simple is blown out of proportion and seems bigger.”
Also internally every person has a unique way of feeling stress or red flags that something is wrong, but Mrs. Roman commented that “your chest tightening, uncontrollable heartbeat, and lack of focus can be some identifiable things that something is having an unhealthy effect on you.”
Furthermore, there are certain factors that can fuel unhealthy stress, and that you can pinpoint are having a negative effect in the course of your life. Additionally, “One of the biggest reasons for unhealthy stress is feeling accountable or a need to do something you have no control over,” Mrs. Roman answered,” Some other reasons could be a lack of sleep, overstimulating sensory environments, and negative self talk.”
Equally important to identifying unhealthy stress is effective ways to prevent it. Some advice Mrs. Roman offered, ”You must identify the times in your life when you feel happy and healthy and prioritize the things that make you feel this way in your schedule. This way you are initially set up for success.” She continued, “And some examples include sleep, healthy eating, and amount of time spent on your phone.”
It is key to recognize that no one can battle these emotions alone, and that being a part of the SUA community means you have a sisterhood to support and be by your side. Mrs. Roman explained, “It is important to be in conversation about your emotions with someone you trust everyday. This can allow you to think through your emotions, so you can easily identify when things are not well and you are not being successful the way you wish to.”
Likewise it can be difficult to offer aid to a friend or classmate that you can sense is dealing with unhealthy stress. It is a challenge to find the balance of offering a helping hand and being overbearing. Mrs Roman said, “The number one way to offer support when you see someone's mood and actions shift significantly is being a nonjudgmental listener, and not trying to problem solve.”
Ultimately feeling stress and asking for help is not something to be ashamed of. There is a stigma that when girls seek help about mental health they are being overdramatic, and their feelings are invalidated and not taken seriously. By being an ally to those struggling and having conversations about mental health you can lessen the stigma and help form a strong SUA community at which no one has to fight their battles alone.
If you or a loved one is having a crisis please reach out and contact the phone number 288, the mental health resource line, or 988 the Suicide and Crisis line.