Stress Management 101
By Stephanie Lynn, age 21, Massachusetts
Teen Stress & 9 Things You Can Do About It
Being a teenager may never have been more stressful. Parents apply pressure to get good grades and be involved in a host of activities. Peers apply pressure to look and act just so in order to be accepted. And if that's not enough, teens apply pressure on themselves to achieve, fit in, please everybody, and figure out their direction.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to relieve stress - healthy ways to deal with the pressures of life. Best of all, these skills can be carried with you into adulthood, where the issues may change, but the pressures remain.
9 healthy ways to relieve stress:
1. Exercise is a healthy way to release endorphins. Endorphins are manufactured by the pituitary gland, muting pain and producing a sense of well-being. In short, regular exercise will help you feel a heck of a lot better.
There are several ways you can exercise. Find what works the best for you - walking, jogging, running, sports, aerobics classes, etc. Exercise will also help you to breathe better and relax. The keys are to: 1) do it regularly - 3 to 7 times a week for a least a half hour, preferably longer, and 2) do what you enjoy, because no one continues for very long with what they don't like to do.
2. Journaling. I've found journaling to be a great way to work out my feelings about difficult situations I'm dealing with. Be sure to keep it well hidden - locked away if possible. Friends, siblings, and even parents should not have the opportunity to discover and read it. Journaling is one time when it's okay for it to be all about you.
3. Spend time with real friends. Get out and do something fun. Go shopping with the girls or laugh at a good movie. Laughing does wonders for relieving stress, as does being with friends you don't have to impress.
4. You need some time for yourself. Stop being so busy!!! Sometimes it's okay to spend a day or evening alone and have nothing on your schedule. The resume police are not going to arrest you for being a slacker. The old saying went, "He who dies with the most toys wins." The real meaning of that saying is that collecting the most material stuff does not make you a happy person, a winner. Guess what? Neither does being the busiest or in the most activities. So don't say yes to commitments you don't have the time for, and don't be afraid you'll miss something. Step out of the rat race once in a while, and chillax!
5. Watch Your Diet. Okay, you've heard that you shouldn't smoke, and heard it till you're probably sick of hearing it. And most of you don't smoke - that's good. But this generation of teens hasn't learned to be equally cautious regarding alcohol, drugs, excessive caffeine, or the chemicals and unhealthy fats in fast food and processed foods. So our generation is still really, really unhealthy.
Rent the movie "Supersize Me". No, really, rent it! If that movie doesn't scare you straight, nothing will. Although you may think alcohol, drugs, excessive caffeine, or junk food is fine for a short-lived escape, they don't help with your problems, and can make you feel more agitated later on. A healthy, happy, low stress lifestyle includes limiting your chicken nugget intake too.
6. Get plenty of sleep. Teens really do need eight or nine hours a night - and not just on weekends by sleeping past noon. Sleep can't be banked or made up very well. Getting four hours of sleep a night won't help you deal with your stress. Lack of sleep may increase your mood swings, and result in increased stress. Then you reach for a major dose of sugar and caffeine ...or worse. Everyone has that occasional short night when they must try to get up after four hours and try to function on caffeine and willpower. But when it becomes a habit ...
7. Prioritize! Spend your energy on what's most important first. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete large school projects. Don't leave your papers to the last minute - finish early! You'll feel good about yourself for finishing early, and you'll laugh as you see the other kids all panicked.
If you're stressed about school, find a friend to study and do homework with - it's more fun anyway. If you're feeling overwhelmed, talk to an adult you trust - a parent, guidance counselor, priest, youth pastor, or other trusted friend.
8. Don't worry about the little things, like petty high school or middle school dramas. Many arguments and issues, like what somebody said somebody else said about you, aren't worth the stress and harm to your health. The plastics, bullies, gossips, jerks, and kids who don't like you aren't going to matter in your life in a few years anyway, so why let them ruin your life now?
9. Be creative! Spend some time working on a new art project, design some new outfits, start a MySpace layout site, or write an article for Sweet Designs Magazine! Getting excited about a new project can take your mind off your stress for a while and give you some space to sort things out.
P.S. For an amusing device to relieve stress, check out: http://www.stresseraser.com