8 Tips for Managing Stress

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A handy visual that shows you how to deep breathe properly. You can use this method any time, any day, and any place.

Eliza Kuperschmid

Being stressed stinks. Whether you are an incoming freshman worried about you first year in the ~scary~ high school or a senior who has college applications and decision deadlines looming, you have probably been stressed at some point. In fact, you may be stressed right at this very moment!
As a person who has dealt with anxiety for most of my life, I am here to tell you that it is okay to feel stressed sometimes. Stress can stink, but it also can push us to grow. Learning how to manage your stress can allow you to become more resilient and more ready to handle all of the many cards that life deals. Here are some of the things that I do in order to feel a little less stressed and hopefully, if you try them out, you may feel less stressed too.

  1. Breathe                                                                                                                                                                                           Practicing the correct method of deep breathing is the most important and most useful tip on this entire list. It is something that you can always have with you in any situation and it is very reliable. You may be thinking to yourself, “I already know how to breathe… this is stupid…” but my friend, this is important so pay attention. First, you are going to want to place your hand onto your stomach (this is to help monitor your breaths, when you become a deep breathing veteran, you do not necessarily need to do this). Next, inhale, keeping in mind that your breathe must travel down from your nose and all the way into your abdomen. You can tell if you are inhaling correctly by checking your hands. Are they rising along with your stomach? If  they are, then you are doing great! Then, hold your breath gently for counts of four. You are going to want to keep the deep breathing at a slow and rhythmic pace. Finally, exhale, but make sure that you let out all of the air from the inhale. Completely emptying your air allows you to bring in even more when you repeat the cycle of breathing. Deep breathing is a great stress-reliever because it is super simple and it can be done anywhere. Breathing helps you to calm down and to bring yourself back into the moment, which is something hard to achieve while in full-stress mode.
    A handy visual that shows you how to deep breathe properly. You can use this method any time, any day, and any place.
    A handy visual that shows you how to deep breathe properly. You can use this method any time, any day, and any place.
  2. 2. Become One With Nature                                                                                                                                                                    Taking a walk around my quiet neighborhood is my go-to strategy for combating stress. The fresh air, gentle breeze, and (mostly) peaceful noises make for the perfect space to clear your head. It is also quite healthy for a person to move around and  loosen up rather than sitting curled up in  bed. Going outdoors does not have to be walking, it can be a bike ride or a game of frisbee with friends. Over the summer, I really enjoyed bringing a blanket out onto my lawn and reading outside. Hiking is also a fun activity to do, with or without stress. Hiking spots like the ones at the Watchung Reservation make hiking accessible to locals, which is awesome! Spending time outside coupled with proper deep breathing will definitely help to clear your mind.
  3. Try a Coloring Book                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you ever miss those childhood days of sitting at a miniature table and coloring in outlines of superheroes or princesses? Well, it’s your lucky day!  Coloring books are back in style! Artists like Johanna Basford have been creating elaborate and intricate designs perfect for teen and/or adult coloring. Turn on some relaxing music, grab your colored pencils, and get creative!
    Johanna Basford’s coloring books are full of intricate designs to fill in with your own color

    4. Get Organized                                                                                                                                                                                      There are infinite reasons why a person may be experiencing stress, but one common reason among students is being overwhelmed by school work and extracurricular activities. You may feel like the list of tasks that you have after school is too much to handle and this may make you feel stressed. Instead of curling up in bed in defeat, write it out! Invest in a cool pad of paper and some pens and create lists. Writing down a tangible list of your tasks will make you feel more organized and make you realize that your perceived workload is not so bad. It is also feels great from time to time to check off something on a list and to feel accomplished from it.
    An example of a bullet journal showing the author’s goals for 2016

    5. Get Some Rest (WITHOUT technology…)                                                                                                                             According to the National Sleep Foundation, eight to ten hours of sleep per night is the average recommendation for a teenager. With homework, sports, music rehearsals, college applications, clubs, and commitments with family and friends, it is a miracle that teens even sleep at all. In order to truly clear your mind and feel more productive and happy during the day, it is imperative that you sleep as much as possible at night. Sometimes, this may have to mean sacrificing your Instagram-browsing time. Is seeing Kylie Jenner’s latest post really worth the stress you will feel tomorrow? To get those essential hours of rest, turn off your phone!
    The only thing stopping you from a perfect night of peaceful sleep is your cell phone

    6. Yoga or Stretching
    Practicing yoga, stretching, or completing a light workout are excellent stress relievers. Getting your body up and moving will clear your head and make you feel great. Locally in Union County, there are many yoga studios and gyms that offer professional yoga classes. The Yoga and Healing Center in downtown Scotch Plains offers beginners yoga classes that are perfect after a long day of school. A completely free alternative is YouTube! Thanks to modern technology, we can follow along with a yoga instructor right in our own bedroom. My personal favorite fitness YouTuber is Cassey Ho, owner and creator of “Blogilates”. Ho posts videos ranging from intense, upbeat pilates to chilled-out stretching. Her positive attitude is enough to make anyone feel happy too.
    Casey Ho, creator of Blogilates, takes viewers through a calming stretch routine

    7. Journaling                                                                                                                                                                                              Even if you are not a writer, jotting down your thoughts every day is a great way to relieve stress. Whatever thoughts are burdening your mind during the day have no real reason to be there. By journaling, you are able to empty your mind and leave it on the paper. Believe me, I know what it is like to have too many thoughts at once. This can even be debilitating at times but from experience, I know that writing it down helps a lot.
    Writing daily helps you to clear your mind of clutter

    8. Seek Help
    First of all, you are not alone. If I have learned anything from dealing with anxiety, it is that everyone gets stressed and anxious and there are people that want to help. Sometimes, it is easier to talk to a friend about your troubles instead of an adult. I feel that it is essential to one’s health to seek help. Talk to your parent, they will try their best to understand. Reach out to a trusted teacher or adult figure in your life. Seek help from a guidance counselor or a psychologist. Everyone wants to help you and wants to see you be happy, so let them!
    At the end of the day, stress is stress. It is going to happen and it is not going to feel all that great. But, it is how you deal with it and cope that will make you a stronger and better person.
    If you or someone you know is in need of help, please utilize the following resources:
    Stress and Anxiety Crisis Call Center:
    800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    800-273-TALK (8255)  
    Full List of Hotlines:
    http://www.teenhealthandwellness.com/static/hotlines#Stress