It is important for girls and teens to learn how to manage stress in order to live a happy, healthy and youthful life. Growing up is not always easy, and it can be daunting when you have added pressures and stress. Join me as I walk through some tips and ways that you, as a young girl or teen, and even as an adult, can follow to help you de-stress and bounce back tougher, happier and healthier.
About stress management
In order to manage our stress levels, it is important to know what our stressors are. Once we have identified our stressors, we need to find ways and techniques to deal with them effectively. By taking positive actions we can minimize the effects of these stressors and we can easily overcome them.
Before we look into some healthy ways of managing stress, please answer, for yourself, the following questions:
- What usually causes me stress? Try to describe a situation where you experienced stress. Write it down if you need to.
- How would I usually react in this situation of stress?
- What are the signs that I am becoming overwhelmed in this situation?
- What steps can I take to help me manage my stress in a more healthy way that would have a more positive effect on this situation?
- What can I do on a daily basis to reduce my stress?
By answering these questions for yourself first, you are able to identify areas in which you may need to improve in order to cope with your stress.
Avoiding unhealthy ways to de-stress
Sometimes we may think that we are managing our stress, but it might be that we are doing so in an unhealthy manner. Following these ways may cause our stress to ultimately become worse. It might satisfy the feeling, or ease our mind at the time, but continual reliance on these methods could wear you down even more. It could affect you physically, mentally or emotionally. By all means, we should try to avoid these ways of de-stressing.
There are two main aspects of unhealthy de-stressing that I would like to focus on. The reason why I would like to discuss these outlets is because they do not only affect you, your health and well-being, but they also have an impact on your loved ones, such as your friends and family.
The first type of outlet is through physical release. This is not to say that it is bad to express your stress through physical activities, but rather it is the choice of physical outlets that you utilize that is important. Some examples of harmful physical outlets are fighting, drugs and alcohol abuse, excessive exercise, risky sexual activities and so forth. By engaging in these activities you put yourself at risk of injury and possibly death.
The second type of outlet is closely related to the first and that is stress relief through behavioral cues. Behavioral outlets tend to affect one’s social well-being, as these behaviors are often to push others away or cover up the real issue. Examples of this is bullying, verbal abuse, risky sexual behavior, and rebellion.
These aspects of de-stress are intertwined and often happen at the same time. It’s very important to be aware of these outlets and how they can be harmful, so that we know what to look out for in ourselves as well as in loved ones.
Ideas for relieving stress
We need to consider healthy ways of relieving stress in order that we may be healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. When considering how to relieve stress it is also important to set boundaries and parameters so that we do not hurt ourselves or those around us.
Here are some positive steps you can take for your well-being:
Be kind to yourself
Encourage yourself instead of criticizing certain aspects. It’s important to treat yourself kindly, just as if you were encouraging a friend in the same situation. Remember, our genes, gender, beliefs, culture, religion, education and experiences is what makes us who we are. We all have bad days, but you can give yourself some slack.
It’s important to keep your diet healthy to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Junk food usually causes a bigger slump in your mood in the long run. Eat lots of fruit and veggies and drink a good amount of water. Try not to skip your meals when you feel stress as this will weaken your energy levels, but also do not over eat as this can lead to a cycle of stressors, e.g.. you over eat, you feel guilty, you over correct, etc.
Get into a healthy sleep routine (which could include going to bed and getting up at the same time each day). Sleep is essential as a natural de-stressor.
Keep on laughing
“Laughter is the best medicine”, as they say. This is very true, as soon as you start laughing, you can already feel the weight off your shoulders. Watch or listen to something funny to get your mind off things. Here’s a great book of jokes that can get you going.
Exercise or keep moving
Being active helps lift our mood, reduces stress and anxiety, improves physical health, and gives us more energy. Get outside as often as you can (preferably in a green space or near water). Keep those muscles moving and you will feel great. Be careful to exercise at a level that’s appropriate for you, and set goals and parameters so that you do not over exert or injure yourself.
Relax and take breaks
Just take some time to breathe. Imagine a balloon in your belly, inflating and deflating as you breathe in and out. While on your breather or break, use something squishy like a stress ball in your hand to release any anxiety. Here is a really cute unicorn stress reliever I found.
Down time or Me time
Make time for yourself. Allow yourself to chill out and relax. Find something that you enjoy doing, and just do it. It could be doing some simple meditation, reading, walking or hiking. The list is endless.
Connect with others
Stay in touch with friends and family. Make regular and frequent contact with them. It’s important to maintain those bonds, because at some point or another you will be able to help each other.
Prioritizing your activities and tasks will help you find balance in your day. Set time aside for things that are necessary to be done, but don’t neglect your down time and breaks. If you try to do too much in a day you will quickly feel weighed down. Scale back on some activities if you must.
Have fun or be creative
Having fun or being creative helps us feel better and increases our confidence. You may even discover some hidden talents. Enjoy yourself. I love being creative, it just soothes me so much. Here is an inspirational and cute colouring book you can express yourself with.
Educate yourself about stress
We all have different meanings to situations and we see things from our point of view. If we broaden out our perspective and consider the bigger picture we can overcome various challenges. If you find yourself in a stressful situation ask yourself these questions to help you ease your mind:
What meaning am I giving this? Is this fact or opinion? How would others see it? Is there another way of looking at this? How important is it, or will it be in a year’s time? What can I do right now that will help most?
We tend to fight against distressing thoughts and feelings, but we can learn to just notice them and give up that struggle. Some situations we simply can’t change. We should rather swim with them rather than try to stop them. Allow your thoughts and sensations just to be – they will pass.
Educate yourself on stress and how to manage it, and ask for advice whenever you can. You will be doing yourself a great favor in the long term, especially when you hit the adult years, because you would already have learned to deal with stress.
Here are some great books you can read to learn a bit more:
Stress 101 by Margaret O. Hyde – This book explains what stress is. It describes the difference between good stress and bad stress, as well as the symptoms you may get when you are stressed. It also gives you some ideas for what to do.
When My Worries Get Too Big by Kari Dunn Buron – This book uses the 5-point scale to talk about stress and different ways to manage it. You can also add in your own thoughts, worries and what helps you to relax.
You go girl
So now you have seen some ways to overcome and deal with your daily stresses. Now all you have to do is practice these activities and you will be well on your way to relieving your anxieties. Don’t stress yourself too much before your years. You will have plenty of times to stress as an adult. Enjoy the youthful ride while you can.
Something extra you can practice is, every time you feel stress, write down the situation on a piece of paper, as well as the feeling that you have about the situation. Keep every paper in a box or jar, and at the end of the week review your list. Then, ask yourself: “Were any of the worries necessary?” More often than not, you will come to realize that the specific situation or feeling was not as bad as you initially thought. You would start wondering to yourself: “Why was I stressed about that!?”
You will soon feel happier, and healthier. You go girl!
Please don’t feel scared or ashamed if you need help coping. There are many people out there that can help. I am one of them. Please feel free to ask any questions or leave your comments below.