Stress ( 5/18/05 )       

Dear Zelda,

I'm a teenager who has a ton of stress. At school I feel out of place sometimes. I have a lot of friends, but when people (not my friends) look at me they give me this very strange look, like they're telling me to go away or something? not just from that, but I also get a lot of stress from how much work I have to do! My partner doesn't like to do her share of the work and we are working on something that is so big that it will determine our grade for the whole semester! I don't want to fail! Is there a good way to get rid of stress and what should I do about my partner? Please share your wisdom with me!

Stressed Dude

Dear Stressed,

Leers from peers can be tough to take, but you're tougher! Walk on by with your head held high. In the big picture called ?LIFE? you can't please everyone, nor should you try. Hey, be happy you have a lot of friends and focus on them.

As for your project partner, little ?Miss Understood the assignment? who seems to be idling while you're doing all the driving, I suggest you sit down with her and list all of the things each of you need to do in order to finish the project by the deadline. I'd let her know that if she doesn't switch into high gear and complete her responsibilities, you'll have to ask your teacher for some advice. Perhaps that will rev her up. It's my guess that your teacher already knows you're in control of the wheel and your partner is just along for the ride.

Now about getting rid of stress? that's a universal problem for everyone, me included. I solve my stress by sleeping. You, however, may need to put a little more balance in your life and that means including time for fun, eating nutritious food (I include ice cream in that category), and getting some exercise (one sit-up and I'm finished, but do what you can). There is a great book that might be good summer reading, called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens: Simple Ways to Keep Your Cool in Stressful Times, by Richard Carlson. The road to adulthood is full of bumps, dips, curves, and forks. Sounds like you're doing an awesome job of steering in the right direction. The best part of the ride lies ahead, so stay positive and persevering. Survival is hanging on after others let go.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

How do you cope with a stressful day while at work?

Frazzled

Dear Frazzled,

This one's easy? I pretend I'm going to quit! KIDDING. I actually do have a game plan and it goes a little something like this. Grab a fresh cup of coffee (prefer mine with vanilla creamer), sit back in your chair and envision everyone in your office as a dog. Pick the proper canine for each personality. You be the bulldog? tough but tender and definitely in charge. After you've pictured everyone as your pet you'll be relieved to find that this levity will lighten your load. Relaxation is just a sip, sit, and smile away.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Can a dog suffer from stress? We like to take our dog along with us in the car, but he starts shaking when he knows we are about ready to put him in. Once inside the car, he hovers on the floor and tries to bury his head under his paws. Is the stress of going in the car causing this reaction?

Wondering

Dear Wondering,

Dogs suffer people problems all the time. We ?do stress? ?and even get acne- just like humans. That's why we're empathetic and understand people so well. My best pal, Zoe, suffered from the same problem as your dog. She had been in the car when our owner, Carol, slammed on the brakes and rear ended a brand new Mercedes. After that a ride in the car caused Zoe to shake like an earthquake. Our cure for Zoe was first lead her to the car, engine off, with her favorite treat. We sat with her in the car, petting and talking with her. Actually I snored while Carol soothed. We repeated this on several occasions. Then we tried it again, but this time we started the engine. More treats. More petting. Finally, when Zoe began looking forward to getting in the car we took her for a short ride that did not include a trip to the veterinarian, but that ended back home and was followed by more praise and more pup-eroni. Today Zoe is the first one out to the car.

Zelda