Guards of Calm: helping teenagers to cope with stress

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the Guards of Calm team

Halyna, 15 years, Ovrutska community, Zhytomyrska 

 

In a fast-paced world, stress has become a widespread companion in people’s lives. It gets into everyday routines, affecting physical and mental health. From stressful work to the uncertainty of the future in times of war, stress manifests itself in many forms, casting a long shadow over the quality of our lives.

In particular, stress can affect adolescents as pressure related to the need to be successful in studying, form self-identity, and fit in with your peers can be unbearable. This is why my friends and I have joined the UPSHIFT programme that has been implemented by the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF. We created a team called Guards of Calm to start making changes. 

First, we didn’t know how to help teens in stressful situations but thanks to the UPSHIFT programme and our mentor Yuliia we managed to dive into research of issues we faced. Yuliia would keep saying “Think globally, act locally”. 

This is how we decided to focus on developing the stress resistance of adolescents and young people in our Ovrutska community in the Zhytomyrska region, where we came from. 

Our peers became our target audience, so we are fully aware of how exactly they try to cope with stress. I asked my acquaintances about that and their answers were like “I eat my feelings”, "I work off my temper on my family," "I overthink a lot" etc. This is why our main goal is to raise the local adolescents’ awareness about managing stress. My team invited a professional psychologist to cooperate. Together, we have organized training sessions where the specialist showed various methods and techniques for coping with stress. 

Our next goal is to practice these skills in everyday life. Of all the techniques offered, we chose meditation because it is an incredibly powerful way to control stress. Of course, not everyone was able to do it the first time, but the main thing is to keep practicing!

Last but not least our goal is recreational activities. We held a quiz for teenagers and organized a movie screening. Rest, both spiritual and physical, is a crucial component of mental stability. 

Our initiative has raised awareness among the young people of the Ovrutska community about how to maintain their mental health and manage stress. Hearing feedback from the participants of our events and seeing how they apply what they have learned in real life gives us hope for a better future.

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