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5 Ways to Prevent Stress Buildup

There's no avoiding the stress of everyday life. Schoolwork, responsibilities at home, busy schedules, other people's expectations, disappointments, deadlines, social drama: all of these can create tension.

Everyday stressors have a way of piling up if we don't keep them in check. Adding these 5 simple actions to your regular routine can help you avoid that "bogged down by stress" feeling. The key word is "routine." You need to make sure you keep doing these to enjoy the benefits:

1. Balance responsibilities (like schoolwork) with activities you enjoy (like relaxing or spending time with friends). It's all about balance: all work and no play is bad. But if your schedule is so crammed with activities that there's no time for homework, that'll stress you out too.

2. Manage responsibilities. Use a calendar or planning app to keep track of assignments, chores, practices, and other obligations. Of course, planning is no good if you don't actually do what you plan: Managing stress also means regular studying, keeping on top of assignments, and overcoming procrastination. Take time to reflect a bit every day and think about how things are going. What do you need to work on? Do? Make time for?

3. Eat healthy foods. What you eat affects your mood, energy, and stress level. Eating healthy doesn't mean avoiding all treats — it goes back to that balance thing again. It's OK to treat yourself to ice cream occasionally if you ate a salad or turkey on whole wheat for lunch. But if ice cream and sweets are your main source of fuel, you're likely to crash or feel cranky — and stressed!

4. Get proper sleep. This may seem like a no-brainer. After all, who doesn't love to sleep? But getting the right amount of sleep is actually something we need to focus on because it's easy to let homework, talking to friends, or binge watching get in the way of sleep — no matter how much we want to catch those ZZZs.

5. Make time to exercise every day. It's hard to feel anxious when you're taking deep breaths on a run, feeling the rush of a downhill bike ride, or playing a pickup game with friends. Exercise doesn't just take our mind off of stress; it releases chemicals in our brains that make us feel better.

Learning to manage stress means building coping skills that allow you to take everyday challenges in stride. It's about keeping problems in perspective instead of ignoring them, and learning what to work on and what to let go of.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2015

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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