Common Concerns

Adolescents: Feeling Stressed? Learn to Let Off Steam

Worry, frustration, fear, anger and feeling like you have too much to do can make you feel stressed. We all feel like this at times; it’s normal.

“The best we can do as human beings is to learn to manage stress, said Kenneth R. Ginsburg, M.D., M.S.Ed., FAAP, author of the book A Parent Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens. Dr. Ginsburg and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the following to help you handle stress better:

Tackle the problem

  • Break your work into pieces to get through it step-by-step.
  • Make to do lists.
  • Work before play. Otherwise you might have less fun because you are worried about unfinished work.
  • Avoid people, places and things that bring you down and are bad influences.
  • Let go of things you cannot change instead of complaining about them.

Take care of your body

  • Exercise.
  • Relax. Try breathing slowly and deeply when you are nervous or angry.
  • Eat well. Always have breakfast, drink water instead of soda and sugary drinks, eat smaller portions and replace greasy food with fruits and vegetables.
  • Sleep well. Try to go to bed at the same time each night; exercise at least four hours before bedtime; take a hot shower an hour before going to bed. Try not to solve your problems in bed, and do not do homework, watch television, read or talk on the phone in bed.

Manage your emotions

  • If you are stressed, take an instant vacation in your head. Imagine yourself in a more relaxing place.
  • Try to take time each day just for yourself.
  • Enjoy hobbies.
  • Appreciate the beauty around you and the small things you sometimes forget to notice.
  • Do not bottle up your emotions. Express them through art, talking to someone, writing in a journal, praying or even laughing or crying.

Make the world a better place. Helping others can help you feel better about yourself.

  • Help a family member.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Help the environment.

To create a personalized guide to manage your stress, visit www.aap.org/stress and click on For Teens Only.

By Arti Allam
AAP News, February 2007

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