Being a teenager is stressful, period. But in the time of Covid, having to make new transitions is even more complicated, frustrating, or just plain annoying. If you find yourself being more stressed out than usual—which is a normal response to new or unpredictable challenges—please check out this list of healthy ways to deal with stress.
1. Take care of yourself.
Stress can be scary because it causes a negative chain reaction in your brain. Scientifically speaking, here’s how it works:
- You experience a stressful situation
- Your brain processes an emotional response
- A distress signal is sent to the control center of your brain
- The distress signal is relayed to the rest of your mind and body
- You are triggered into a “fight-or-flight” response
The thing is, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to “fight” or flight.” Instead of stuffing your face with junk food or acting destructive, consider these healthy alternatives:
Did you know that U.S. Marines learn a special breathing technique to stay calm in stressful situations? It’s called the 4-7-8 relaxing breath exercise. When you control your breathing, you’ll slow your heart rate and reduce anxiety and panic.
Go for a walk. Take a jog. Crank out some pushups. Have a punching bag somewhere? Let it rip. Physical exercise stimulates a chemical change in the brain that contributes to healthier thinking.
Go to a quiet room, close your eyes, control your breathing, and clear your mind. This type of meditation will help you “quiet down” your nervous system and relieve stress. To learn more about the benefits of meditation and how to practice it at home, check out this article from the Cleveland Clinic: How to Use Meditation for Teen Stress and Anxiety
2. Find your happy place.
Is it playing the guitar? Drawing a picture? Spending time with a favorite friend, family member, or pet? Most of us have healthy and happy places that make us feel the safest and most comfortable. Where is your happy place?
If you’re experiencing discomfort, pain, or inescapable feelings of doubt, who can you talk to? Reach out to your parents, siblings, or friends for help. Ask one of your teachers or pastors for advice. Connect with a counselor, a coach, or your family doctor.
Examine the most trustworthy people in your network and tell them what’s going on. If you bottle up stress, frustration, and even anger, you could be doing serious damage to your mind, body, and soul. But when you talking about how you’re feeling, that alone can act as a healthy release—communicating can be a cathartic experience. And when you receive input from people you know and love, it can help you look at things from different, more comforting perspectives.
Related: Teems Talk About Stress (Video)
3. Give it a rest.
Are you spending too much time studying? Reading the news? Watching TV? Scrolling on your phone? Too much of anything can be a bad thing, and sometimes the best cure is just to walk away. Take break. Give it a rest! It’s not about burying your head in the sand or ignoring a problem—that’s different. Rather, taking a break from something—usually the dramatic source of stress, whatever it may be—will give you a chance to reset your thinking, relieve stress, and regain your healthy mindset.
Are you literally not getting enough rest, try getting more sleep! Healthy exercise, regular sleep routines, and saying no to that coffee or energy drink will make it easier for you to chill.
Related: Stress Management and Teens