As a teen, sources inside you and outside you (other people) can be major causes of stress. While the "to-do" list may be growing ever larger, prioritizing and managing your time can help.
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 — procrastinating only makes for more stress when you actually have to get to work. Planning apps can help make a to-do list more fun.
- Go out and exercise for 30-60 minutes — even if you have a lot to do, this can help you focus when you return so you'll be more calm and efficient.
- Have a cup of warm herbal 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 in feeling stressed.
- 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 classwork, sometimes a friend can be a source of comfort.
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 perspective and motivation.
- Ask how you can help; for example, if a friend is nervous about giving a speech, offer to be their audience while they practice.
When there seem to be a million things to do, prioritizing can seem difficult. It's important to look at which activities or projects will take longest, which are hardest and which are due or 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 it has to be done.
- Decide how much time you want to spend on each item on your to-do list.
- Cross out or check off what you finish.
- Break up bigger projects into more manageable parts, and use a calendar to map your progress. 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.
- Figure out what times you want to set aside for work, and what time you have for other activities. For example, 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 are careful with commitments and time management. "Perfect" isn't the goal. Your parents and teachers can help you set realistic goals and prioritize your activities.
Last Reviewed: February 2019