Stress, Anxiety and Technology

Posted by Admin on December 20, 2019 at 5:16 PM

Adapted by Linden teachers Savannah Barker, Beth Alexander and Coco Lee

Information taken from Under Pressure by Lisa Damour, Ph.D.

On October 23, a group of Linden faculty attended a presentation by world-renowned psychologist Lisa Damour, PhD, in which she shared expertise and insights about stress, anxiety and technology and their impact on the lives of adolescent and teenage girls. Damour is a best-selling author, a regular contributor to CBS News and a columnist for the New York Times. Savannah, Beth and Ellen were so inspired by the presentation, they decided to launch an evening of learning and discussion on this topic for Linden parents, caregivers and community members. The date is Wednesday, February 26, 2020. More details will be shared in the new year.

In the meantime, we are pleased to share valuable insights from Lisa Damour’s presentation:

  • Stress and anxiety are not all bad — you can’t thrive without them
  • Emotional discomfort is not always a bad thing 

  • Healthy stress — when stress is okay:
    • The stress of operating beyond our comfort zone is necessary for learning
    • Pushing ourselves past familiar limits builds our capacities, allowing us to deal with greater stressors down the road

  • Unhealthy stress — when you should be concerned:
    • Stress interferes with well-being in the short term or long term (e.g. trauma or chronic stressors like poverty)
    • Adequate resources are not available to address the problem (i.e., the demands of stress exceed our external resources)
  • Healthy anxiety:
    • Passed down through evolution to keep humans safe
    • Internal alarm system that triggers discomfort — we need this!
    • Can be your friend 
    • Ask: “why is your alarm going off?” and “what’s the best way to get it to quiet down?”

  • Unhealthy anxiety — when you should be concerned:
    • When “the alarm bell” is non-stop and/or gets in the way of daily functioning
    • When worries are out of proportion to the perceived threat 

Supportive Adults Can:

  • Reinforce that stress and anxiety are normal parts of life

  • Understand that avoidance fuels anxiety — don’t let your girls avoid things that make them anxious. Events that are in the realm of “normal” (such as tests, sports, or parties) are important to experience.
    • Avoidance reinforces the positive feeling of relief, encouraging them to want to avoid the event the next time.
    • Avoidance also prevents them from having positive experiences with the things they are avoiding, further reinforcing the cycle.

  • Stay calm during meltdowns. Resist advising or strategising until the dust has settled.
    (Think: they are three, they fell and they scraped their knee. I must react in a calm, supportive manner.
    This includes the reaction on your face.)

  • Set boundaries with technology like smartphones or tablets
    • Remove this type of technology from the bedroom at night
    • Make time for tech-free social interaction

  • Make sure she gets enough sleep
    • Girls in elementary school should get 11 hours of sleep/night.
    • Girls in middle school should get 10 hours of sleep/night.
    • Girls in high school should get 9 hours of sleep/night.