If you’re a teenager, chances are good that you are stressed, and for good reason. You have a lot of schoolwork, you likely have extracurricular activities or a job (or both!), you have chores at home, and you have friendships and perhaps a romantic relationship to juggle. Although every generation has to make it through the tricky adolescent years, there’s some evidence that today’s teens are more stressed out than their parents and grandparents were at that age. What can you do? Read on for ten simple ways to relieve stress.
1. Take Some Deep Breaths
When you find yourself in the middle of a stressful situation, try taking a few deep breaths. One way to do this is to breathe in slowly for the count of five, hold it for the count of five, exhale slowly for the count of five, then hold again before repeating. Doing this several times in a row can help slow down your racing heart and allows you to focus on your breathing instead of whatever is making you feel stressed and anxious. It’s best if you can excuse yourself to a private, quiet location for a couple of minutes so you can do this, but if not, you can try the breathing exercise even when you’re in a crowded room.
2. Learn How to Meditate
Meditation takes practice, but once you learn how to do it, you’ll find that you can meditate anywhere, no matter what else is going on. It helps if you start off by getting yourself comfortable in a dimly lit room. There are many ways to meditate, but one of the easiest is to focus on a single phrase, word, or sound. When you find your mind wandering, which is normal, gently redirect your thoughts back to your chosen word. Once you get the hang of it, you can try different types of meditation and see which you like best to relieve stress.
3. Go for a Walk
When you are stressed, you might have a surge of adrenaline that makes it hard for you to sit still. Going for a brisk walk can help you burn off some of that extra energy and it can also get you away from the immediate situation so you can clear your mind. Take deep breaths as you walk and notice the birds, trees, or buildings around you. Exercise can reduce stress levels when done regularly, so try to take the time each day to go for a walk or get in some other type of workout.
4. Keep a Journal
Writing down your feelings is a great way to relieve stress. Go ahead and scribble away; nobody is going to be reading your journal except for you. Once you are done, you can choose to throw it away or keep it to read again at a later time. Another way to use journaling to reduce stress is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down one or two things you’re grateful for each day; over time, it can help you have a more positive and calm mindset.
5. Talk to a Friend
Talking out your feelings with a friend or a trusted adult can also help relieve stress. One reason is that it allows you to say what’s bothering you out loud. Just venting your worries can sometimes make you feel better. Your conversation partner can help by simply listening; let them know if you would rather than just listen instead of offering advice. Of course, if you are looking for advice, be sure to tell them that, too.
6. Try Aromatherapy
There are some scents that tend to make people feel more relaxed. Lavender is one of the most popular; it’s even used in some baby lotion brands to help infants relax and sleep. Jasmine and lemon can also be used to help you relax, as can any favorite scent. Try burning a candle, using an oil diffuser, or looking for hand lotion with your chosen scent.
7. Make Time to Laugh
Sometimes what you need most when it comes to stress relief is to simply forget about the situation for a little while. A great way to do that is to find something that makes you laugh and indulge in it. It might be a favorite funny movie, re-watching episodes of your favorite sitcom, or just spending time with a friend whose jokes always crack you up.
8. Drink a Cup of Herbal Tea
A hot beverage can help you calm down if you are stressed. The only problem is that many hot beverages (black and green tea, hot chocolate, and coffee) contain caffeine, which can raise stress levels. A good way to circumvent this issue is to choose herbal tea, which contains no caffeine. Chamomile, peppermint, and lemon tea are all good choices to promote relaxation, but if you prefer something else, just be sure that it doesn’t have caffeine.
9. Know It’s Okay to Say No
One reason some people tend to have stress is that they don’t feel comfortable saying no to requests. If you are already busy with all of the things in your life, there is no shame in saying no to a guidance counselor who is pressuring you to switch into an AP class or to someone in your community who is asking you to volunteer for a weekly or monthly event. Self-care includes being judicious about where and on what you spend your time, so don’t be afraid to say no when someone is asking for time that you do not have to give.
10. Seek Professional Help
If none of the above suggestions help you relieve stress or you are dealing with symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks, then it’s time to seek professional help. Your primary care doctor can refer you to a counselor who can teach you ways to reduce your anxiety levels and feel better. There’s no reason to suffer needlessly, so speak to your parents, your doctor, or another trusted adult about getting the help you need to move past your stress.