Stress is one of the worst things about getting older. When we’re young we often don’t have a care in the world, but as we grow, we begin to learn what stress is. High school especially can be stressful, what with juggling assignments, parents, crushes, friends, classes, and more. It can be hard to destress. Many teenagers don’t have the first clue how to relax.
First: breathe. No, really. Take a deep, slow breath. Then another. Take five to ten deep breaths, and while you exhale on every breath, try to make your mind go blank. That can be very difficult, especially when you are stressed, but just try to tell your brain, “No. I’m not thinking right now.” Imagine putting up a wall in your brain, if you need to. One trick I’ve heard is to try to focus on the color white in your mind. Just imagine the color white, focus all your energy on it, and breathe.
Next, if you have time, try expressing how you feel about the situation. Write about it in a journal (physical or online), tell a friend all about it, or if your thing is more art than words, try drawing or coloring a picture to express those feelings. Just do your best to get every stressed thought out, whether through words or art or whatever else you can come up with.
Then, again if you have time, take a break. (If you’re a procrastinator, do your best to truly assess whether you have the time to take this break. If so, then by all means do it!) Watch an episode of your favorite show that has half-hour episodes, or watch half of an hour-length show’s episode now and half for your next break. Or maybe you prefer to read. If so, read a chapter of the book you’re on. (Well, you be the judge of if that’s a good break or not. If the chapters are short, maybe two would be better. If they’re long, maybe half a chapter is best.) Maybe you can play with your dog, curl up with your cat, or hang out with a friend. Whatever it is, try to stop thinking about what you’re stressed about for a little bit to give your brain a breather before diving back in to get it done.
Lastly, tell yourself some positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are statements that reinforce positive ideas. Many people are super stressed in high school, especially early on, because they do not have good time management skills. If this is you, a positive affirmation could be that you’re going to work on your time management skills. Tell yourself that everything is going to be alright. It is best if you can do this out loud, because there really does feel like a difference between saying an affirmation out loud or in your mind, but even thinking it can help.
Stress can be horrible on our mental health, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. What are your favorite stress management tips? Leave them in the comments!
(Written by Megan Flint.)