From Our Teen Readers
June 25, 2015 10:49 am

Picture this: Your obnoxiously loud alarm clock wakes you up at 6 o’clock in the morning. You rush to get ready for school, only to then rush through your day of learning. Once you get back home, it’s like school all over again — homework, studying, and trying to fit in your meals in between. With all of this, who can even manage to think of a social life?

Does this sound familiar? Over 30 percent of teens feel depressed and overwhelmed as a result of stress according to an American Psychological Association study. And high schoolers have the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient from the 1950s.

Long story short, being a teenager isn’t easy. Trust me, I know it all too well (especially with AP exams just around the corner). Sometimes, it can be tempting to just drop and give up on everything you’ve got, but the years of work and building up stable relationships are too valuable to scrap.

Well, there’s some good news for you: no sacrifice is needed. You can have the smarts, the love, and the confidence all while keeping your stress at bay! So stop, breathe, and read on:

Exercise to release some endorphins.

Let some of your happy-making chemicals flow through your body. If plain old exercising sounds too boring, form a ‘get-active’ group with some of your closest friends! You’ll be able to motivate one another and have fun while doing it.

Not only will you feel better getting some fresh air, but you will also have a chance to socialize and release tension from your body. An idea is to get colorful mats out and do some Pilates. My favorite Pilates routines come from YouTube’s Cassie Ho, creator of Blogilates!

Write down what’s bothering you And throw it away.

Doing this physically will set the right path for your mind.

Not only is this a fun activity for the crafty people out there, but a study that asked participants to write down their thoughts on their body image showed that the group that threw away their papers actually ranked themselves higher on a scale of their physical appearance than the other group that kept their slips!

It feels good to physically write things down and pin point what you are thinking or feeling. This may shine some light on what exactly is stressing you out!

Take five minutes every morning to simply ‘be’.

Thinking of absolutely nothing may seem strange, but starting your day with a clean slate gives you a chance to look at a problem in a whole new light.

And speaking of light, soaking in some sunlight in the morning can direct your whole day in the right direction. Studies show that the rays of the sun can actually improve one’s mood and stimulate Vitamin D production (which is important for your bone health).

Do something you have never done before.

It can serve as a great distraction/refresher from what is stressing you out since you will be engaged with the new experience. Take the opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve always daydreamed about being a part of a flash mob — so plan one with your friends! Or perhaps something simpler, like checking out the new sushi place across the street. The point is, get away from your routine and try something fresh. Check those boxes off your bucket list!

Spend time with animals.

If you are a fan of furry friends, maybe volunteering at your local animal shelter is right up your alley. Being around a cuddly animal has actually shown to lift one’s mood and reduce stress. It’s very therapeutic and even lowers your blood pressure (wow)!

Or if volunteering seems impossible to fit into your already-too-busy schedule, then simply visiting a pet store and just looking at the cute animals can give you a boost of energy! Trust me, looking at those fluffy bundles of joy can make a whole lot of difference when it comes to releasing stress.

Confront your stress.

Sometimes, bad vibes can be diminished by personally going up to the source itself and solving the problem right then and there. Don’t simply walk away from the stress only to come back to it late — -this is not something to procrastinate on!

Shortcuts aren’t always the most efficient. The next time you encounter a potential stressful situation, go full-speed ahead and figure a way to solve it.

Remember, a little breather here and there will not hurt your grades, in fact it may even boost them! Keep that drive of yours, but don’t forget to enjoy your journey along the way. We attend school most of our lives, so why not embrace that time and find ways to cope with that stress.

Katharina Wolf is a driven student whose passions include fashion, writing, and all things creative. She loves a great adventure and frequently travels the world. You can follow her journey on Instagram @katharinamlv.

(Image via here.)

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