Stressed out? Try these 10 things to feel more balanced
If you feel stressed, you’re not alone. Between relationships, friendships, college applications, homework and even just making it to school on time, today’s teens face a huge number of pressures that can make them feel stressed out.
In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, many teens feel overwhelmed, depressed or tired due to stress, and according to a 2013 survey, during the school year, teens report even higher stress levels than adults.
Although some short-term stress can be good, long-term exposure to stress can cause serious mental and physical consequences, including increased illnesses, sleeplessness, weight gain, and even thoughts of suicide.
That’s why it’s crucial that you learn healthy ways to manage stress. Here are 10 things you can do to reduce tension and keep yourself centered and balanced.
- Talk to someone
If you’re feeling anxiety or stress about anything from a break-up to a friend attacking you on social media to upcoming tests and papers, it’s important to find a non-judgmental person to talk to. If it’s your parents you choose to talk to, you might try telling them you just need them to listen and not try to fix anything for you. If you feel you can’t talk to your parents, seek out a teacher or school counselor. Whoever you choose to talk to, what’s most important is that you don’t bottle up all your emotion inside.
- Try relaxation techniques
Deep breathing is easy, free, and a quick way to calm yourself down if your anxiety is starting to get out of control. All you have to do is breathe in deeply through your nose, exhale slowly through your mouth and repeat a few times. This may sound simplistic, but deep breathing is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Other things you can try include muscle relaxation techniques (tense each part of your body one at a time and then relax it, moving all the way from your head down to your toes), yoga, or meditation.
- Move your body
Exercise is a great way of reducing stress levels and boosting endorphins. And you don’t have to play a sport or join a gym to make it work for you. If you’ve got anxiety about studying for a big test or writing a paper, you can simply go for a quick run, do some jumping jacks, or run up and down the stairs a few times. Anything that gets your heart pumping and makes you break a bit of a sweat will do the trick!
- Get creative
Need to clear your mind of negative thoughts? Try doing something that uses your creativity. Whether you spend some time drawing, painting, cooking, journaling or playing music, you’ll find that taking time out to do something creative will help you feel more grounded and peaceful.
- Make time for fun
If you’re constantly on the go from school, to activities, to homework, to bed, with no downtime, you’re going to get burnt out pretty quickly. Although you don’t want to waste every night watching TV, it’s important to find ways to unwind for at least a few minutes every day. You can take a relaxing bath, treat yourself to one TV show, listen to some music, or take time to talk to a friend on the phone. It’s all about balance.
- Learn to accept “good enough”
Sometimes stress can be self-induced. If you’re constantly re-writing your notes, staying up late getting every last detail correct in your presentations, or making yourself crazy formatting an essay a dozen different ways, perfectionism might be getting in your way. Instead, try to give yourself time limits on your work and learn to accept that what you’ve done is good enough.
- Decrease negative self-talk
Do you often find yourself saying, “Everything sucks,” or “I never do anything right,” “I’ll never be able to understand this,” or “What’s the point?” These kind of self-defeating attitudes aren’t going to make you feel any better. Instead, recognize when you’re talking negatively to yourself and try to counteract it with a positive affirmation. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can be successful,” “I am a hard worker,” “I am a good friend,” “My preparation is going to pay off.” You’ll be amazed how well it works!
- Don’t procrastinate
Often when we’re stressed about a difficult assignment or a painful conversation we have to have, we think the best thing to do is avoid it. But really, this only makes it worse! You’ll just keep ruminating about the task in the back of your mind, and your anxiety will grow. You’ll feel a lot better if you start taking some action now, rather than waiting until the last minute.
- Focus on what you can control
Another source of stress comes from wanting to please everyone: our teachers, our boyfriend/girlfriend, our friends, our parents. But there’s a saying that goes, “You can’t take care of yourself and take care of others at the same time.” Remember that you only have control over what you do, not whether or not someone else is mad, sad, disappointed in you, etc. Just do your best and let go of worrying about what others might say.
- Give back to others
And finally, if you want to get out of your head for a little while, one of the best solutions is doing something nice for someone else. Whether you take time to listen to a friend in need, do a chore for your grandma, or volunteer at your local church or homeless shelter, you’ll feel a lot better about your own life when you take time to help someone else.
What other strategies help you to manage stress? Tell us in the comments below!