As a teen, there are many sources, both inside you and outside (from others), 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, try taking a small break to exercise or read. This can help you return to the work at hand with a clearer, more focused mind.
What to Do When You are Stressed
- Make a list of what you have to do, then prioritize and write down how long you plan to spend on each item — procrastinating only makes for more stress when you actually have to get to work
- Go out and exercise for half an hour or an hour — even if you have a lot to do, this can help you focus when you return so 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 little 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 to get a big project done, 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, then 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 source of comfort can be a friend.
How to Help a Friend Who is Stressed
- Help your friend figure out the main source of stress (such as sports, theater, or community service)
- Figure out which tasks need to be done first or which they can cut back on or postpone completing
- Suggest talking with teachers, coaches, or parents if deadlines seem to be piling up
- Go out and take a walk or jog 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. It is important to look at which activities or projects will take longest, which are hardest, and which are due or are happening soonest.
- Figure out a balance between school and other activities that works for you, and set an amount of time for each activity
- Make a list of what you have to do, and when you have to have it done
- Cross out or check off what you have done
- Decide how much time you want to spend on each item on your to-do list
- Break up bigger projects into more manageable parts. For example, with a research paper, you can start with finding sources, then take notes, then make an outline, write a rough draft, and then edit and proofread. This way, you don't have to do it all at once.
- Figure out what times you want to set aside for work, and what time you have for other activities (Study after breakfast, take a break for lunch, play a sport for one hour, study until dinner, then relax for the night and get a good night's sleep so you can focus the next day)
One of the most important factors in becoming overstressed is how much you expect yourself to be able to accomplish. You must have 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. Much stress can be avoided if you just relax and be careful with commitments and time management. Your parents and teachers can help you set goals and prioritize your activities.
Last Reviewed: October 2015
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