What career path do I want to take when I finish high school? Where do I want to go for college or tech school? How will I find time to study between school, practice, and my job? Why does this person always pick on me? What if I am not as smart as everyone else in my class?
Stress can be a common experience for teenagers, especially as they navigate academic, social, and personal challenges. In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some tips to help reduce stress for teens:
- Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. There
are plenty of great apps for all these techniques.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase stress levels. Get enough sleep each night by establishing a regular bedtime routine. Most importantly, stick to it!
- Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and boost mood. Engage in regular physical activity, such as playing sports, taking walks, or hopping on the old bicycle in the shed. We have the beautiful Ravine Gardens and St. Johns Riverfront to walk, jog, or run here in Putnam County. Take advantage of what nature offers; it can be especially calming.
- Take breaks: Take breaks throughout the day to do something enjoyable, such as reading a book, listening to music, taking a walk, or talking to friends (Minus the drama, leave that at the front door).
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce stress levels. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Prioritize time management: Learn to manage your time effectively to reduce stress from procrastination and feeling overwhelmed. Use that cell phone or a paper planner (Yes, they still exist!) to keep track of assignments due, meetings, planned break times, etc.
- Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend, family member, dependable adult (your 4-H leader or agent is always here for you), or mental health professional if you are struggling with stress. You don’t have to face your challenges alone.
Remember, everyone experiences stress from time to time, but chronic stress can negatively affect mental and physical health. Prioritizing self-care and seeking help when needed can go a long way in reducing stress and promoting overall well-being. You are worth it! Invest in yourself and your mental health!
The author is employed by UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agriculture – An Equal Opportunity Institution.