As a preteen, there are many sources – both inside you and outside – that are major causes of stress. While the "to-do" list may be growing ever larger, prioritizing and managing your time can help with this stress. When you are stressed for any reason, taking a small break to exercise or read can help you get back to work efficiently.
What to Do When You're Stressed
- Make a list of what you have to do, then prioritize and write down how long you plan to spend on each item.
- Go out and exercise. This can help you focus when you return to your tasks you'll be more efficient.
- Have a cup of warm tea or hot chocolate.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Read a relaxing book or magazine for a while as a break from your work.
- Try some simple yoga poses.
- Call up a friend to talk – chances are you're not alone.
- Feel comfortable saying "no" to additional projects.
If you need energy, try to eat something with protein – like cheese, yogurt, meat or nuts. Foods with lots of sugar or caffeine can give you a quick burst of energy, but you'll feel tired later (which isn't a good idea if you have a lot to do).
If the source of stress is school, chances are you and your friends are all stressed together. Look for support from your parents or another person outside of school.
If your stress comes from something other than class work, sometimes a friend can be a source of comfort.
How to Help a Friend Who's Stressed
- Help your friend figure out the main source of stress (such as sports or other activities).
- Figure out which tasks need to be done first or which they can cut back on or wait until later to finish.
- Suggest talking with teachers, coaches or parents if deadlines seem to be piling up.
- Go out and take a walk with your friend – you can be a great source of motivation.
- Ask how you can help; for example, if a friend is nervous about giving a speech, practicing with someone they're comfortable with can help.
When there seem to be a million things to do, prioritizing can seem difficult.
- Make a list of what you have to do, and when you have to have it done.
- Look at which projects will take longest, which are the hardest and which are due the soonest.
- Find a balance between school and other activities that works for you, and set an amount of time for each activity.
- Cross out or check off what you have finished.
- Decide how much time you want to spend on each item on your to-do list.
- Break up bigger projects into smaller more manageable parts.
One of the most common factors in becoming overstressed is how much you expect yourself to be able to accomplish. You must set reasonable goals that you can reach within the time that you have to complete certain activities.
Set reasonable expectations, and allow yourself enough time to reach them. A lot of stress can be avoided if you find time to relax and be careful with commitments and time management. Your parents and teachers can help you set goals and prioritize your activities.
Youth reviewers: Sloan Adrouny and Mira Bhatt
Reviewed by: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last reviewed: August 2019