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Under Pressure
Cover of Under Pressure
Under Pressure
Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls
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An urgently needed guide to the alarming increase in anxiety and stress experienced by girls from elementary school through college, from the New York Times bestselling author of Untangled"An...
An urgently needed guide to the alarming increase in anxiety and stress experienced by girls from elementary school through college, from the New York Times bestselling author of Untangled"An...
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  • An urgently needed guide to the alarming increase in anxiety and stress experienced by girls from elementary school through college, from the New York Times bestselling author of Untangled
    "An invaluable read for anyone who has girls, works with girls, or cares about girls—for everyone!"—Claire Shipman, author of The Confidence Code and The Confidence Code for Girls
    Though anxiety has risen among young people overall, studies confirm that it has skyrocketed in girls. Research finds that the number of girls who said that they often felt nervous, worried, or fearful jumped 55 percent from 2009 to 2014, while the comparable number for adolescent boys has remained unchanged. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with girls, Lisa Damour, Ph.D., has witnessed this rising tide of stress and anxiety in her own research, in private practice, and in the all-girls' school where she consults. She knew this had to be the topic of her new book.
    In the engaging, anecdotal style and reassuring tone that won over thousands of readers of her first book, Untangled, Damour starts by addressing the facts about psychological pressure. She explains the surprising and underappreciated value of stress and anxiety: that stress can helpfully stretch us beyond our comfort zones, and anxiety can play a key role in keeping girls safe. When we emphasize the benefits of stress and anxiety, we can help our daughters take them in stride.
    But no parents want their daughter to suffer from emotional overload, so Damour then turns to the many facets of girls' lives where tension takes hold: their interactions at home, pressures at school, social anxiety among other girls and among boys, and their lives online. As readers move through the layers of girls' lives, they'll learn about the critical steps that adults can take to shield their daughters from the toxic pressures to which our culture—including we, as parents—subjects girls.
    Readers who know Damour from Untangled or the New York Times, or from her regular appearances on CBS News, will be drawn to this important new contribution to understanding and supporting today's girls.
    Advance praise for Under Pressure
    "Truly a must-read for parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors wanting to help girls along the path to adulthood."—Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult

Excerpts-

  • From the book chapter one

    Coming to Terms with Stress and Anxiety

    i have good news. actually, i have two pieces of really great news. First, stress and anxiety aren't all bad. In fact, you can't thrive without them. Understanding the difference between their healthy and unhealthy forms will change, for the better, how you help your daughter manage the tension she feels. Second, the field of psychology has a lot to say about how to alleviate stress and anxiety if they do reach toxic levels. Indeed, if I were to take an informal survey of my colleagues, the vast majority would agree that we have come to understand the root causes and inner workings of pathological stress and anxiety as well as we understand anything in our field. As a result, we have many ways to help people rein in psychological strain when it gets out of control.

    Taken together, these two happy facts mean that you can already start to worry less about how stressed or anxious your daughter feels because, to a degree, these mental states are essential catalysts for human growth and development. And if you suspect that your daughter's unease far exceeds the healthy mark, then I'm here to reassure you that you and your daughter do not need to feel helpless. We're going to tackle unhealthy stress and anxiety, too.

    Healthy Stress

    Stress gets a bad rap. Though people don't always enjoy being stretched to new limits, both common sense and scientific research tell us that the stress of operating beyond our comfort zones helps us grow. Healthy stress happens when we take on new challenges, such as giving a speech to a large audience, or do things that feel psychologically threatening, such as finally confronting a hostile peer. Pushing ourselves past familiar limits builds our capacities in the same way that runners prepare for marathons by gradually extending the distances at which they train.

    Learning to brave stressful situations is also a skill that develops with practice. Researchers actually use the apt term stress inoculation to describe the well-­documented finding that people who are able to weather difficult life experiences, such as riding out a serious illness, often go on to demonstrate higher-­than-­average resilience when faced with new hardships. I can speak for myself in saying that being middle-­aged doesn't seem to come with a lot of advantages, but it definitely has one particular benefit: problems don't bother me as much as they used to. Like most of my agemates, I've got enough life experience under my belt that I now take in stride events—­such as having a plane flight canceled—­that would have put me on the ceiling when I was younger. While the saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" almost certainly overstates the point, it's not all wrong.

    As parents, we should think of stress the way Goldilocks thought about making herself comfortable while trespassing. We don't want our daughter's stress level to be consistently too low or too high. But we can embrace reasonable levels of stress as a nutrient for our daughter's healthy development that will help her to grow into the strong and durable young woman we want her to be.

    Much of what our girls learn about how to manage stress comes from observing how we manage it as parents. Our daughters watch us for cues about how alarmed they should be by life's difficulties. When we let our own inner Chicken Little take over and panic in the face of manageable challenges, we set a bad example. When we accept that stress often leads to growth—­and help our girls do the same—­we create a self-­fulfilling prophecy for ourselves and for our...

About the Author-

  • Lisa Damour, Ph.D., is the New York Times bestselling author of Untangled, as well as numerous academic papers related to education and child development. She graduated with honors from Yale University, worked for the Yale Child Study Center, then received her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Damour is the executive director of Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls, maintains a private psychotherapy practice, consults and speaks internationally, and is a senior advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University. She and her husband have two daughters and live in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2018

    Studies show that from 2009 to 2014 the number of girls age ten through college reporting anxiety or fearfulness jumped 55 percent, while the number for boys reporting such feelings remained unchanged. Here, the zNew York Times best-selling author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood explains both the benefits of stress and how parents can help their daughters cope with overload.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2019
    New insight into the old issue of teen girls suffering stress and anxiety.Adolescent girls have always struggled with anxiety, but it's even more of an issue now with the rise of social media, cyberbullying, and the cutthroat competition to get into elite universities across the country. Damour (Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, 2016), an adolescence columnist for the New York Times and director of the Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls, re-examines this problem through real-case scenarios taken from her private practice as a clinical psychologist and her work at her all-girls school. The author helps readers identify key areas where girls may be feeling pressure: home, school, in their relationships with their peers and with boys, and with the culture at large. In readily accessible and easily assimilated prose, Damour first explains how some stress and anxiety is actually good for a girl, as it pushes her out of her comfort zone, forcing her to stretch and reach beyond her safety level to new stages of development. It's when this stress becomes overwhelming that it becomes a problem, and here the author jumps into the many arenas where this is an issue. She discusses the difference between healthy competition and aggressive behavior in school academics, how most girls need more sleep, and how they can protect themselves and each other from sexual harassment. She explains how to build downtime into a hectic schedule so that when things go awry, as they inevitably do, it doesn't lead to a serious mental and emotional collapse. She also makes many other common-sense suggestions to help parents help their daughters in these highly competitive times. Although few of these issues are new, Damour's instructive book pulls them into the limelight yet again, where they can be addressed by a new generation of parents and girls.Practical solutions backed by solid research that will help many girls overcome their high levels of stress and anxiety.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2019

    According to recent statistics cited in this latest book from CBS News contributor and psychologist Damour (Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood), 31 percent of adolescent girls and young women struggle with symptoms of anxiety, experiencing edginess, fatigue, and changes in appetite, and are three times more likely than boys to be depressed. Damour testifies to similar conclusions drawn from her private practice and work at an all-girls school but states that these emotions can also stretch girls beyond their comfort zones in positive ways. The author addresses areas of strain such as interactions with family, school struggles, social pressures, relationships, and new tensions added by social media. For each of these facets, Damour offers suggestions for parents attempting to help their daughters manage the complexities of life at this age. VERDICT Parents of adolescent girls will find this an excellent choice for assisting their children in navigating day-to-day stress and struggles.Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls
Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
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