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Keywords:

  • health;
  • stress;
  • schoolchildren;
  • lived experience;
  • phenomenological–hermeneutic analysis

Abstract

Researching schoolchildren's lived experiences of stress was seen in this article as a holistic approach to stress research. The aim of this study was to illuminate the meaning of stress from schoolchildren's perspective. A total of 23 Swedish schoolchildren, aged 10–12 years, wrote open letters and were interviewed. The phenomenological–hermeneutical analysis resulted in five themes: being out of time; being less than one can be; being run by others; being in a fleeing, fighting body; and being lifted to excel. This updated understanding of the meaning of stress for schoolchildren included an emerged focus on their being caught in life's challenges. These challenges included a lack of freedom and time, as well as an opportunity for potential growth. Our understanding of the schoolchildren's lived experiences of stress may be used to facilitate the development of early stress intervention. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.