Ten Things You Can Do When You’re Stressed

From Mental Health America (mhanational. org) September 09, 2019

You might not be able to change what is stressing you out, but you can control how you react and respond to stress.  If you notice that you are showing signs of stress, here are some things you can do to help yourself:

1. Leave the room
Getting up and removing yourself from the stressful situation can be a huge help.  A brief change of scenery can help put some distance between you and your overwhelming feelings.  If you are in class, take a quick walk to the bathroom.  Buried in homework?  Take 60 seconds to walk to the kitchen for a glass of water.

2. Organize
Pick something small: your desk, your closet, or your to-do list are all great choices.  Spend 20 minutes focused on tidying up—it will help you feel in control of something and give you a sense of accomplishment.

3. Do some breathing exercises
Think about how you breathe when you are relaxed—like when you are about to fall asleep. Slow and deep, right?  Forcing yourself to breathe this way is one of the best ways to bring on calmer feelings. Try 4-7-8 breathing to start: inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.  Breath2Relax and Breathe are two good apps for guided breathing exercises.

4. Write it out
When your feelings start to bubble up and get overwhelming, putting them on paper can help you untangle them.  Try a stream of consciousness exercise: 10 minutes of writing down all your thoughts without hesitating.  Or make a list of things stressing you out—seeing them reduced to bullet points can help you think more clearly.

5. Meditate      Meditation triggers your body’s “relaxation response” – the opposite of the common stress response of “fight or flight.”  It slows your breathing, blood pressure, and pulse—all things that go along with being in a calm state of mind.  You can also try apps like Calm, Sanvello, and Headspace.     

6. Watch something funny
Putting on a funny show or video will help take your mind off everything going on for a little bit.  And laughter really can be the best medicine!  It is known to reduce mental stress and bring on feelings of relaxation.

7. Exercise
One of the best ways to handle built-up stress is to physically release it.  Lace up your sneakers and head outside for a run–your feet pounding against the pavement is sure to help you get some frustration out.

8. Write down 3 things you are grateful for
Showing gratitude is known to improve mood and help you better handle adversity – so not only is it a good way to reduce your immediate stress, but it can help you keep your future stress level down, too.  And when you write down a few things you are thankful for, you can always look back at your list when you start to feel that stress bubbling up again.

9. Talk it out
Sometimes when we are stressed, everything little problem seems like a big deal.  Talking to a friend, parent, teacher, coach, or someone else you trust can help you get out of your own head and see things from a different point of view.  Try using the NotOk app to help you reach out to others when you are feeling overly stressed.  *See the article below called A Guide for Adolescents and Teens

10. Light a candle or diffuse essential oils.
Scents can trigger very powerful emotional responses, and some are particularly good at inducing relaxation.  Try lavender, lemon, and jasmine scents – all known for alleviating tension.