5 Ways to Manage Teenage Stress
by MeLisa Clay
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” I doubt when most of us read this quote we think of stress, SAT/ACT, or getting into college. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey, American teenagers are our most stressed out generation. So, if a teenager tells you he is stressed out, as parents and educators, maybe we should take a minute to have a discussion about how to manage this stress.
The pressures of schoolwork, test prep, social life, extracurricular activities, combined with the relentless pressures of social media, lead to our young people being more stressed than ever before. I hear it all the time, “What if I don’t do well on the SAT/ACT, what if I don’t get into my first choice college, what if I don’t get the HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarship, what if I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up?” It is harder than ever before to get into some colleges because of the number of people who are able to apply to college, and that difficulty just adds more pressure. Many students look at college websites to find the mid GPA/SAT/ACT score to get into college and see they are up against some pretty stiff competition. So we’re all stressed out – what do we do about it?
- Trust in that precious scripture you’ve heard time and again from your Tattnall family. A Bible verse comes to mind that is as much a part of Tattnall Square Academy as math, English, science, social studies, and Troy the Trojan: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11. One thing I have noticed over the years is that it really does all seem to work out. Tattnall students go to college, they find a place to fit in, and they declare a major. So go confidently in the direction of your dreams. You’ve got this!
- Take time to truly enjoy high school! When I told my children I was writing this blog they both said, “Tell them to enjoy high school and college and life! Enjoy the football games on Friday nights – college games are fun, but it will never be like high school football Friday nights again.” Worrying and being all stressed out is most likely not going to change the outcome. Don’t forget to watch the changing of the leaves this fall. Get involved, and enjoy your family and friends and all the activities going on.
- Create, prioritize, and start working to accomplish your to-do list. Sitting around being stressed out is not going to get anything accomplished. I find that making a list and coming up with a timeframe for tasks I need to complete helps me see that I really can get it all done. It is a great feeling to mark things off that list as they are accomplished. Life will forever be about finding a balance between work and play.
- Get plenty of rest. Studies show that not getting enough sleep leads to poor health and speeds up the aging process. Who wants to look old before they have to? According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need to get eight to ten hours of sleep each night. In fact, they say sleep is as important to your well-being as the air you breathe and can help you eat better and manage stress better.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Having a healthy lifestyle is key to a balanced mind, body, and soul. So occasionally take a break from studying and take a walk and watch the seasons turn from summer to fall to winter to spring. See, you will accomplish two things at one time – watching the leaves change and getting some exercise. Take a deep breath, and know that God has an awesome plan for you to lead the life you have imagined!