We probably don’t need to tell you that teens can really feel stressed out. Even when times are generally good, sometimes you may feel stress building up from pressure at school, at work, or in relationships with your family and friends.
Stress is the body’s natural response to difficult or scary situations. When you’re under stress, your brain and heart work quicker, you breathe faster, and your muscles tense up. That’s because when you think stressful thoughts, your brain senses danger and wants to make sure you’re ready for anything.
Everybody feels stress at times. But too much stress, or feeling stress over a long period of time, can be bad for your health. It can lead you to feel depressed or make it hard to focus in class. Stress can even cause physical problems like headaches and stomachaches, or cause you to get sick more often.
Is there something you can do about it (besides downing a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips)? Yes! To fight stress in your life, you can try some of these tips, adapted from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. These tips are for managing both ongoing stress and a single stressful event:
1. Plan ahead - If you have too many tasks or assignments due, make a to-do list and do the most important thing first. Make sure your plans are realistic; don’t plan to accomplish more than you actually can.
2. Prepare - If you’re worried about an upcoming event, try visualizing yourself there and thinking about how you might handle different situations that could come up.
3. Breathe deeply - Sit up straight and take a few slow, deep breaths: inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
4. Relax your muscles - Do some stretches or take a hot shower to help yourself relax.
5. Exercise - Exercising can help you relax, too; it even releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins and dopamine in your brain.
6. Eat healthy - Give your body energy by eating healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and lean sources of protein.
7. Avoid alcohol and drugs - Substance use can make it harder for you to think clearly—or, depending on the substance, can make you feel anxious.
8. Talk to someone - Tell your family and friends that you’re feeling stressed. If there’s something you don’t want to talk about with family or friends, reach out to a teacher, school counselor, or another trusted adult.
9. Get help if you need it - If you ever feel like you’re dealing with more than you can handle, talk to a trusted adult or a doctor, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which helps people with all sorts of issues, not just suicide) at 1-800-273-8255.
Learn more about valuing who you are.