Under Pressure | Lisa Damour

Summary of: Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls
By: Lisa Damour


In a world where girls face relentless pressures and expectations, stress and anxiety levels are soaring. The book summary of ‘Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls’ by Lisa Damour provides insight into the unique challenges that girls face in today’s society. From academic pressures to the effects of social anxiety, this summary will highlight the importance of understanding the distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress and anxiety. We will explore the impact of the #metoo movement on young girls, learn the art of saying no, and tackle the challenges of developing resilience in the face of adversities. Get ready to dive deep into an engaging and enlightening exploration that will surely resonate with all readers.

The Impact of Stress and Anxiety on Girls

The pressures on girls to succeed in the twenty-first century have caused a surge in stress and anxiety levels. While some stress can be helpful in promoting resilience, unhealthy levels of anxiety can have negative effects on mental wellbeing. The key factor that differentiates between the healthy and unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety is the availability of appropriate emotional, financial, and social resources. Girls need to identify when their alarm system goes off too frequently, making them feel constantly panicked and fearful, causing interference with sleep, happiness, and concentration.

Approaching Fear

Dr. Damour, an educational psychologist, illustrates the potential harm of avoidance when girls face fearful situations. By discussing Jamie’s situation, she emphasizes that avoiding stressors only intensifies anxiety. Instead, Dr. Damour encouraged Jamie to take small steps towards preparing for her upcoming chemistry exam, mitigating her fear by seeking help and studying tricky concepts. While Jamie didn’t do too well on the test, she learned that failure doesn’t always equate to catastrophic outcomes, and more importantly, she learned not to fear her challenges. Rather than allowing her client to avoid the test, Dr. Damour taught her how to face and prepare for it, empowering her to tackle stressful challenges confidently.

Understanding Shyness in Children

A child’s tendency to be shy or wary of new people and experiences shouldn’t be automatically labeled as social anxiety. According to psychologist Dr. Damour, children have varying personalities from infancy, and some are simply slow-to-warm-up. This type of child should be reassured that it’s okay not to rush into new situations. Parents should avoid comparing their naturally shy child to a more outgoing sibling, and instead, be patient and supportive. A calm acknowledgment of their child’s reaction without judgment and giving them time to think things over can lead to a more positive and confident response towards socializing or new experiences.

The Price of Academic Excellence

Girls outperform boys in academics but at a cost, as they experience significantly more stress compared to their male peers.

In America, girls are surpassing boys in academic achievement, outperforming them in all subjects at school and outnumbering them in universities. However, this academic success comes at a cost as girls report experiencing more stress than boys. Research has shown that girls worry more about their grades and feedback from teachers, whereas boys are more confident in their abilities and tend to attribute poor performance to a lack of effort rather than ability.

To help alleviate this pressure on girls in the classroom, it is crucial to encourage them to believe in their ability to improve their academic performance through hard work. Dismissing a poor grade as an indication of innate ability only serves to undermine their confidence. By emphasizing that exams and assignments are merely assessments of subject knowledge at a specific point in time, we can help girls understand that their academic achievements are within their control.

In conclusion, while girls are excelling academically, they are also experiencing more stress compared to their male peers. It is imperative to encourage and support girls to believe in their ability to improve their performance by working hard rather than associating grades with innate abilities.

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