Dealing with Stress

Dealing with StressStress is a “feeling” that may be brought on by several factors including peer pressure, expectations from your teachers or coaches, and from your parents too. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Andrea Omidy. She is a psychology fellow with the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

According to Dr. Omidy, being a teenager can be hard! There are a lot of changes that are happening; body changes, harder homework in school, dealing with friend drama, and trying to get parents and loved ones to treat you more like an adult when they still think you’re a kid (sound familiar?). Also, a lot of teenagers have to face new challenges; starting to date, feeling comfortable with their bodies and sexuality, making decisions about drugs and alcohol, and possibly safety in their neighborhood. These changes can be exciting and wonderful, but they can also can be hard and stressful at the same time.

Not all stress is a bad thing! Sometimes stress makes us more motivated to reach our goals. However, too much stress can make us more anxious, overwhelmed, and moody. Believe it or not, it can also cause us to do more unhealthy things, such as sleep less, eat more junk food, get into fights with our friends and family, and try things that we usually try to stay away from, such as alcohol or drugs.

But don’t fear! Here are a some ways to help keep stress in check:

  1. Eat 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks each day
  2. Get enough sleep, but not too much (8–9 hours per night)
  3. Stay away from alcohol and drugs
  4. Don’t drink lots of caffeine, such as coffee or energy drinks – these cause you to feel more anxious and you get tired once the caffeine wears off
  5. Take breaks to relax or do something that makes you feel good (i.e. listen to music, draw, write, talk to a friend, or go for a walk)
  6. When you have a big project or test coming up, take a “big task” and break it down into smaller ones

Remember though, sometimes stress becomes too much and we find ourselves in a place where nothing we’re doing is making it better! If this happens, it helps to find someone to talk to and get advice from – a health care provider, family member, teacher, counselor, clergy member, or coach.