Life can be stressful. Navigating school, home, and friends – maybe even a job on top of that; it can easily seem like you have 25 hours’ worth of things to do in your 24 hour day. Not to mention the nine-and-a-half hours of sleep experts say all teenagers need. Even just trying to think about doing everything can get a person stressed, and then you stress about being stressed, and you end up stressing more than actually doing things, so you feel even more stressed because you are not doing what you need to.
Stress can be complicated, so it makes a lot of sense that most people seem to ignore it. However, ignoring stress can deteriorate health and ruin relationships, negatively affect school performance and even cause depression if not taken care of properly. Thankfully, there is something that can be done, and don’t worry – it’s not very complicated, so you don’t need to stress about this, too. So take a deep breath and relax; your stress should be gone soon. Below are nine things you can do throughout the day – starting from when you wake up, to the moment you go to sleep – to reduce your daily stress.
1. Wake up early
It might seem like waking up earlier would add stress to your life, but it can actually help eliminate it. When you sleep in as late as possible before going to school or work, you end up getting a little more sleep, but you have to rush to get ready in the mornings. Even waking up 10 minutes earlier can help reduce stress. It can give you some extra time to space out in the shower, or even sit down and eat breakfast. Waking up earlier can create a more relaxed morning and a less stressful day.
2. Be on time
Whether you are walking to the bus stop or driving to school, it pays to be on time. Running down the hallway to make it to class on time raises your stress level and makes it so you cannot focus on what you are supposed to be learning as well. So, show up to class a couple of minutes earlier, find a seat and relax a little. Take a couple of seconds to breath and get ready to think about those trigonometry formulas.
3. Talk to people about how you are feeling
If you are feeling stressed, don’t worry – you are not the only one. Everyone feels stressed every once in a while, so talk to your friends about it. They might have some really good advice, or they might just be really good listeners. You choose your friends for a reason. Find one you trust and let them know how you are feeling. Talking about what is going on can be a relief in itself, and who knows – maybe they are feeling stressed, too, and were too afraid to talk about it.
4. Make lunch an actual break
Everyone gets a lunch break. It can be easy to use the time to work on homework due later in the day or catch up on assignments you already missed. While this might help your grades a little, it greatly adds to your stress level. Don’t do any homework during lunch. Make sure your work is done the night before and take this time to relax. Talk to friends, play a game of pick-up basketball, or just sit and listen to music. Use the time to take care of yourself and make sure you are ready for the second half of your day.
5. Do something you love
Going to school and work are important, but they are not always fun. Make sure you have something fun to do. Join a sports team, try out for the school play, or play video games with your friends. Having something you really enjoy doing planned can make the not as fun things go by faster, and it allows you to decompress and forget about your worries for a little while.
6. Drink water and eat healthy snacks
While drinking enough water and eating snacks are just generally good ideas, they can also help reduce your stress. If your body is healthy and hydrated, you are able to get more done and at a more efficient rate. You will have more free time and you will feel better.
7. Be active
This is the same principle as the last one, if your body is healthy, your mind will follow suit. You don’t need to be a great athlete to be active and healthy. Walk somewhere instead of driving, take the stairs, or just stand more than you sit. There is a small caveat with this one: don’t be so active that you don’t have any time to rest. Moderation is key.
8. Pack your backpack before you go to sleep
This is a simple change that can make a big difference. It does not take that long to pack your backpack, but when you do it at night before you go to sleep you do not have to think about it in the morning. You can just get up, eat some breakfast, grab your bag and go. You do not have to run around the house looking for your books and assignments, because they are already in the right spot.
9. Get enough sleep
Sleep is important. Sometimes a simple solution to feeling stressed could be staying up later to do all your work. While this might work in the short term, it can really hurt in the long run. In order for the average teenager’s brain to process information and remember everything, it needs to get around 9 hours of sleep each night. The more sleep you get, the more you will remember and the less stress you will feel. Especially around test time, because your brain already did all the work for you while you were sleeping.
10. Disconnect on the weekends
Take a day each weekend and don’t think about school or work. Take some time for yourself and do what you want to. Read a book, relax with friends, go to the beach or on a hike. Do something you enjoy with people you like to be around, and recharge for the week to come.
Why would anybody want to cut or hurt themselves? How could that possibly make somebody feel better? While a lot of us don’t understand it, there are many people who feel relief when they cut or harm themselves in some other way.
To some people, hurting themselves makes them feel better. It makes them feel like they’re in control for once, and makes them feel alive instead of numb. It can help express feelings they can’t explain, like extreme sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt and rage. It releases the built up tension they feel inside that they don’t know how to let out in any other way. It distracts them from their overwhelming emotions and anything going on in their life that they can’t deal with. It’s a temporary fix that, after a while, only makes them feel even worse… so it becomes addicting and they continue doing it.
If someone you know is cutting or harming themselves, here are some warning signs. They might:
- have unexplained wounds or scars from cuts, bruises, or burns, usually on their wrists, arms, thighs, and chest
- have blood stains on clothing, towels, bedding, or lots of blood-soaked tissues
- have sharp objects or cutting instruments always on hand, like razors, knives, needles, glass shards, bottle caps or scissors
- have frequent “accidents” – they might claim to be clumsy and have many mishaps
- always be covered up, like wearing long sleeves and pants even in hot weather
- want to be alone for long periods of time, especially in the bedroom or bathroom
If a friend tells you they’ve been cutting or if you confront them about it, here are a few things you can do to help them:
- Be sure to focus on their feelings rather than the fact that they’re cutting. Instead of asking how often they cut, what they’re using to cut, and where they’re cutting, ask them how they feel. What kinds of feelings and thoughts are they having? How do they feel before and after they hurt themselves? How are they feeling about their life overall?
- After asking about how they feel, figure out why they cut. What are their self-harm triggers? Is there a pattern, does something similar happen every time they cut that causes them to get the urge to hurt themselves? What’s different in their life now than before they started cutting, and what happened the first time that made them decide to experiment with self harm?
- Help them find new coping techniques. People cut and harm themselves for different reasons, so after you figure out their reason, help them find something that works for them and will really help them feel better. Here are some ideas for people with different kinds of feelings:
- If the cut because of intense emotions, they can…
-paint or draw
-journal about their feelings
-write a poem that expresses their feelings
-write down all their negative feelings then rip the paper up
-listen to music that describes how they feel
- If they cut to calm and soothe themselves, they can…
-take a bath or shower
-cuddle with a pet
-listen to calm music
-wrap themselves in a warm blanket and lie down
- If they cut because they feel disconnected and numb, they can…
-call a friend
-go to a self-help website, message board, or chatroom
-take a cold shower
-chew on something with a strong taste, like peppers, peppermint, or a grape fruit peel
- If they cut to release tension and anger, they can…
-work out, like running, dancing, or hit a punching bag
-punch a mattress or scream into a pillow
-squeeze a stress ball or some Play-Doh
-rip something up, like a newspaper
-make lots of noise, like playing an instrument or banging on some pots and pans
When people cut and harm themselves, they keep it a secret from everyone they know, sometimes for several months. That is very hard on them, on top of whatever they’re dealing with that makes them cut. So when you reach out to them, make sure they know you aren’t judgmental about it and you just care about their feelings. Let them know that you’re their to help, and that there’s hope for them to get through this hard time.