Understanding Stress & Anxiety

This & That
11 January, 2019

Camp is a fun place to make new discoveries, new friendships and go through amazing adventures. It takes us out of our comfort zone and even though it can be an incredible experience, it can also induce a lot of anxiety and stress.

But what is the difference between stress and anxiety? Let me explain it to you with two examples.

Imagine you are hiking in the forest and you come across a bear. Your body and your brain will immediately react to the danger and you will feel stress. This will make you respond to that danger as best as you can to feel safe again. Now, imagine that you are preparing yourself for a hike in the woods and someone tells you there is 1% chance you cross paths with a bear. Your thoughts and body might react to the possibility of encountering danger, even if it is not yet present and there are small chances it happens. You’ll be feeling anxiety. It is possible that you will react by avoiding the situation that might make you feel unsafe or insecure.

When you are at camp, try identifying what you are feeling. If the danger is real, your stress will let you know that you need to find a solution to a problem or avoid danger. Anxiety though is much more complicated, because it is induced by your thoughts and the danger is usually unlikely.

Here are some of the tricks you can use to help you better manage your stress or anxiety:

  • Breath: Concentrating on your breathing is an excellent way calming your body and thoughts. Find a comfortable position, sitting or lying on your back, and concentrate for a couple of minutes.
  • Write: Make lists of the things that concern you. It can help you put your thoughts in order.
  • Distract yourself:
    • Listen to music
    • Go take a walk
    • Play with your pet
    • Go take a hot bath
    • Call a friend or a family member
    • Drink water
    • Draw or paint
  • Unplug yourself: Sure, your cellphone, your videogames and the television can help you keep distracted, but they do not allow your body and your brain to relax. Take time off from technology so you can focus on things that are more likely to make you feel calmer.
  • Repeat this phrase: “I am okay. What I am feeling will pass”.
  • Talk to someone: Go talk about what you are feeling to a friend or a family member you trust. If you feel like no one is available for the moment, don’t hesitate to call the kids help phone line to speak to a licensed counselor who can listen to you any time (1-800-668-6868).

Echo started with the Foundation in the summer 2018 as a Camper Support Specialist for Camp des Voyageurs Tim Horton in Quyon, Québec and is looking forward to going back in summer 2019. She has a diploma as a Social Service Technician and is currently finishing her bachelors at University of Montreal. Echo loves reading as many books as she can, plays the violin in her spare time and is currently living in Montreal with two former camp counselors and a cat named Albus Dumbledore.

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