My 5 favorite stress management strategies

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Mental health is one of the most important things you should take care of for yourself’s well-being, here are 5 starters.

Although this time of year is greeted by blooming cherry blossoms and warm weather, it also comes with the added stress of homework, exams, and extracurricular activities. For many students, seeing the light of summer at the end of a dark tunnel seems just in reach, until due dates and essays create a mountain of work and stress that sometimes seems impossible to climb this late in the school year. As many studies have shown, built-up stress and anxiety is extremely damaging to the mental and physical health of teenagers and for some, trying to finish out the school year becomes incredibly overwhelming. It’s important to monitor stress and simultaneously take the time to decrease it, so here are a few of my favorite stress management strategies that help me to find some calm during these hectic last few months of school. 

1-Eat!

It seems obvious and sounds simple enough, but being mindful about eating can greatly reduce stress and anxiety. According to the University of Michigan Health, handling stress becomes a lot easier when you allow yourself to be as healthy as possible. Try avoiding the habit of eating on the run or even skipping a meal in between busy hours. Doing so may make your stress worse and it may even begin to cause unpleasant physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. Just taking the time to make your mealtimes more relaxed can give you time to breathe, step away from the screen, and give time for yourself. Recommended foods include oatmeal, pasta, and citrus fruits but eating whatever makes you feel the happiest is always the best option!

2-Listen to Music

Listening to music has always been one of the most effective ways to help me reduce stress. Nothing beats finally closing my Chromebook at the end of a long virtual day and listening to my favorite artists and genres. Research provided by PsychCentral proves that music has “a unique link to our emotions,” and because it consumes our attention, it acts as a “distraction” while it simultaneously allows us to explore other emotions. Lowered stress equates to higher productivity, so even turning on music while you work can help you to become more efficient when tackling your workload. 

3-Get Some Extra Sleep

As many studies have found, getting enough sleep should be an incredibly important, if not the most important, priority for teenagers in high school. While sleep schedules are known to reduce stress, regulate moods, and restore the body, following a regular sleep routine as a student is easier said than done. If you can, try going to sleep at the same time every night in order to get your full 9 hours in. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try reducing screen time and avoid naps after 3 p.m (once again, much easier said than done!). To be as successful as you can be, starting the day off right by feeling rested and reenergized will help you to be more focused and attentive in your morning classes. 

4-Practice Positive Thinking and Affirmations

Practicing positive thinking is a great way to turn your unconscious mind away from the negative thinking that it may be used to. According to Very Well Mind, “positive affirmations work the same way negative self-talk does but in a way that benefits you.” A great way to reduce stress and improve your way of thinking is by creating personalized affirmations and self-talk statements for yourself. Start out by reflecting on what you hope to accomplish in the future, what traits you want to develop by the time you get there, or what you hope to create in your life along the way. Turn those ideas into simple, positive statements that you can repeat to yourself or write on a piece of paper on a daily basis. Believing in your affirmations through repetition will reduce self-destructive behaviors and instead increase self-confidence and general happiness. Having a positive mindset always attracts positive results!   

5-Pick a Stress Relieving Activity

Just finding an activity that you enjoy doing is a great way to reduce stress! Whether it’s playing an instrument, creating art, working out, or watching your favorite tv show, finding small things you can partake in throughout the day that bring you happiness is just as important as anything else you have on your to-do list. Finding time to relax and enjoy the small things may become difficult as exams and finals roll around, so it’s important to remember that having a healthy balance is key to staying motivated and happy!

While increased stress is difficult to deal with, it’s not unmanageable. What works for me, might not be what works for you, so take the time to figure out what helps you relax the most and try your best to prioritize your mental, physical, and emotional health in the coming weeks!