Hemophilia and managing stress

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Teens living with hemophilia can learn tips on managing stress.

As you get older, you will learn to take more responsibility for your health care. Most people find this transition stressful. Things will also change with other parts of your life, like where you live and go to school. You will decide at some point to leave home and will have to think about where you want to work. These different changes can cause stress. Even if you are generally an easy-going person, you may feel a little tense or worried.

Stress is your body’s physical and emotional response to pressure. It is that feeling you get when you think about a project that is due or a midterm that is coming up. Stress is normal and it happens to everybody, but it is important to know how to handle it.

How do you get stressed?

Many of us become stressed when we feel pressured. This pressure can come from outside sources, like school, friends, family, teachers, or events that are happening in your life. It can also be internal: you might push yourself to do well in school or to change something about yourself.

How the body responds to stress

When your body experiences stress, a hormone called adrenaline is released. Adrenaline causes a big boost in energy in your body. It increases your heart rate, and makes your blood vessels contract your airways expand. When your body is constantly experiencing this heightened state, it can start to take a toll on your health. This is why it is important to learn how to manage stress.

Stress affects everyone differently

Not everyone shows they are stressed in the same way. Many people feel overwhelmed, anxious, or worry a lot. You may spend a lot of time thinking about unpleasant things or imagining the worst in a situation.

If you are stressed about your hemophilia, you may:

  • worry about having a bleed
  • worry you will not be able to recognize when you are having a bleed
  • worry about getting to an emergency room when you need to or getting the appropriate care once you are there
  • feel afraid to tell other people about your hemophilia
  • worry about missing school because of a bleed or an appointment
  • worry about a test or your grades in school
  • worry that your parents will be angry with you about having a bleed
  • worry about fitting in and feeling accepted by your friends.

Stress can also affect you physically, by causing:

  • upset stomach
  • headache
  • trouble falling asleep
  • tense muscles
  • nail-biting
  • fidgeting.

Good vs. bad stress

Having some stress in your life is actually good for you. Stress, in small amounts, helps you stay alert and focused on what you need to do. Stress also motivates you and helps you prepare for big events in your life. Have you ever had to give a presentation in class? Compete at a sporting event? Perform on stage? Stress plays a big role in helping you succeed in all of these situations.

But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can affect you in negative ways. You might have a midterm coming up, a project due, a swim meet you want to qualify for, and responsibilities at home all at the same time. When you experience so much pressure that your body can no longer cope, it starts to affect your emotional and physical well-being.

Tips on managing your stress

Sometimes you might feel that doing something impulsive or risky will help ease your stress. You might be worried about your marks in school, so you skip an appointment with your comprehensive care team (CCT) to avoid missing class. While this might seem like a good solution, it is not only harming your health, but is going to create more stress for you in the long-run. Stress can be tough to deal with, but it is best to handle it the right way. Talk to your social worker about ways you can manage your stress.

Here are some ways you can manage your stress:

  • Take a short nap to refresh and clear your head.
  • Take a minute to just breathe and think things through rationally.
  • Talk to your parents, siblings, friends, or a counsellor at school about things that are bothering you. Do an activity or watch a show on T.V. to take your mind off things and allow your body a chance to relax.
  • Exercise. Many teens say that physical activity helps them get out pent up feelings.

While there are many effective methods for dealing with stress once it has happened, preventing stress all together is even more beneficial.

Here are some things you can do every day that will help prevent stress:

  • Get enough sleep every night. Adolescents need anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.
  • Eat regularly and have well-balanced meals.
  • Limit food or drinks that are high in caffeine, such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soft drinks.
  • Exercise.
  • Think positively and distract yourself from negative thoughts or feelings.
Last updated: March 13th 2019