In today’s increasingly hectic world, it isn’t uncommon to have a million things occurring at once. Being the super- kids that we are, we often are left juggling a number of different things; from school, relationships, family, friends and part-time jobs- sometime even full time jobs. Studies show that the five most frequently experienced sources of stress in today’s teens are school work, parents, romantic relationships, friends, and siblings. Together, all of that can leave even the most composed person feeling stressed out. So, what are some ways stress can be handled?
During my senior year of high school, I was on the school newspaper, the events committee, yearbook committee, had a part-time job, an internship and took college classes…and was stressed out! My mom always told me, “Maybe you are taking on too much.” And I would look at her like she was insane and insist I was perfectly fine, when truthfully I would be ready to pull my hair out.
Looking back on it now, my mother was right. One of the main causes of stress is over- scheduling yourself. Sometimes, you can’t do everything and that is okay! The world won’t end if you don’t bake cupcakes for the bake sale and the dance committee will carry on if you don’t hang flyers. So, don’t try to take on everything. Be realistic with how much time you have and what you can handle. If you have an hour or two between school and work, then use that time to hang flyer, but if you don’t have three hours to spend decorating a gym, don’t. Let someone else with the time take on that job and save yourself from the stress.
When seeing just how much I have to do on a given day I think, “I am never going to get any sleep this weekend.” Then, I am instantly depressed thinking about how much I am going to have to miss out on or how stressed I am going to be, which only puts me in a worse mood and stresses me out even more.
When finding yourself faced with a packed schedule, it is important to keep a positive outlook. Having a positive attitude will actually help you get through your task quicker. Simply telling yourself that you can do something will make all the difference. Even the smallest dose of optimism can make the most stressful of circumstances better.
Do Not Procrastinate!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t procrastinate from time to time. Everyone does.
Although, it may be easier to put off that five-page paper until tomorrow or that science project until next week, it will only increase your stress level. Putting things off until the night before, like so many do, only causes people to stay up very late trying to finish their assignments, which results in minimal sleep- if any. That lack of proper rest can leave you feeling exhausted, moody and even more stressed!
Instead, get a head start. Try doing a little bit of the assignment every day. Have a five page paper due Friday? Instead of putting it off until Thursday night, write one page a day. And if you find yourself really having some trouble with the topic, email your teacher! After all, it’s a teacher’s job to help you, so instead of stressing out on your own, get some advice on what to do. That way it doesn’t seem so intimidating and you can get your assignment in on time.
I’ll be the first to admit that being organized can be hard to do when you are always on the move. Half of the time I am so busy my side of the room looks like hurricane Irene stuck.
Although it is easier to just drop things and keep going, clutter can actually make you more stressed. Having a clean and organized work space will allow you to find what you want, when you want and allow you more freedom to move about. It will also make for an easy and stress-free environment to work in. Also, try a calendar or day planner to help organize your time. Having all of those meetings, appointments and practices in one place can make things a lot more manageable. This is made even easier with today’s technology being as extensive as it is, you can have all of your tasks and appointments set up on your phone or mobile device.
Deidre Graham,18, is a Bio-Medical Science major at Rochester Institute of Technology, and a firm believer in organization as a way to minimize stress. “I rely heavily on my planner,” said Graham, “there is just nothing more fulfilling then crossing something off your list.”
Make Sure You Get Some Play Time!
“Once I set aside time for my assignments, I reward myself by watching my favorite TV shows,” said Graham. “That way I get my work done and time for myself.”
The number one way to beat stress is to take a break every once and a while. Setting aside some break time allows you to socialize and have fun, but more importantly gives you time to relax and de-stress. A great way to get some break time is to treat it as a reward.
Whether it is simply reading a book or magazine or watching an episode of Glee with friends/family, when you reward yourself with fun it gives you the motivation you need to succeed.
Treat Your Body Well
If there is one thing I learned this year, it’s that college students run on a completely different clock. I am always on the run. Between classes, studying, and an 18-hour work week, I have little time to do anything else. In college, everything is left up to you. When being that busy, it isn’t uncommon that students, like myself, don’t take care of themselves very well. Sometimes I find myself so busy I either forget to eat, don’t eat until late in evening, or stay up really late.
Some other ways to reduce stress levels are eating a balanced diet and getting a good night’s sleep. It’s easy when you’re on the run to pick up a bag of Doritos for lunch, and stay up late to do homework. But when faced with stress, the body needs vitamins and sleep more than ever! You need a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep in order to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape and ready to handle any stress that may come your way. So, when you’re up late and still have to get up early for school or practice, you may not get all of the hours of sleep you need and filling your body with all that sugar and empty calories can cause irritability, break outs, and weight gain.
Instead, though this may sound corny, give yourself a bed time. When I have class the next day at 8 am I only allow myself to stay up until 1 am. Though this may seem late, going to bed at 1 am still gaurentees me at least 7 hours of sleep and keeps me from being tired in the morning. Also, DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST! It isn’t a joke when they say it is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast in the morning boosts your metabolism and gives you the fuel you need to kick-start your day. And, if you find yourself crunched for time when lunch comes around, try to avoid things like: chips, candy and soda, and instead, go for a granola bar, fruit or water. Your body will appreciate it.
Talk It Out
In high school, I kept everything to myself. If I was worried about a test, failing a class, or stressed out at work, I never let anyone know. I just told myself to “suck it up” and let people think I was a lot less stressed then I really was. I realized later on that this was huge mistake.
Another great way to handle stress is just talking to someone about it. Whether it is your parents, a teacher, guidance counselor, or a friend, simply talking out your stresses will make you feel a lot better. And chances are they are going through the same thing and will even be able to help. If you are freaking out about your History test, then see what some of your classmates are doing. You might learn some new techniques or even gain a study partner. If you are feeling like things are getting too much for you, whether it be school, work, friends or family, then go to a teacher or guidance counselor and talk about it. After all, there is nothing wrong with letting someone help you.
So, make sure to make some time for relaxation. Be realistic and optimistic. Believe in yourself. Eat a full balanced meal, get some sleep, and remember you are not the only one who is stressed out.