Written by Kashvi Tiwari
I think it’s safe to say most of us are stressed. Whether it be because of the ever present pandemic, the holiday season, friends, or school, we all have a lot to be stressed about. But that doesn't mean we should drown in our worries. That’s where this article comes in! Here, I’ll go through 5 different, flexible coping strategies that you can utilize and adapt to your needs.
Okay, I know you’ve probably heard this one before and might be rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Regular exercise has many psychological and physiological benefits- it stabilizes your nervous system, increases blood circulation, and stops stress at the source by cycling stress hormones out of your bloodstream. And you don’t even need to do too much to reap the benefits- a 10-15 min walk is enough to do wonders. Just remember, the key thing here is to be consistent with your exercise; make sure you make yourself a routine that is manageable for your daily life.
I know, this tip is easier said than done, but a well balanced diet has benefits beyond stress reduction. Breakfast especially is crucial to a healthy/well functioning body, so if you’re someone who skips breakfast, it’s time to curb that habit. Incorporate organic fruits and vegetables into your diet and avoid caffeine, processed food, sugar, and alcohol. While these foods might make you feel relaxed in the short run, in the long run they increase the uptake of stress hormones and don’t properly nourish your body. Remember, if you eat bad food, you’ll feel bad.
This tip is short and sweet. Most teens are sleep deprived, which adds extra stress to the preexisting stress in them. You need over 7-8 hours of sleep (even more if you’re a child) to be able to handle stress the best you can. To improve the quality of your sleep, go to bed at consistent timers, avoid big meals before bed, try to sleep in a dark and quiet atmosphere, and limit screen time before bed. This is honestly one of the easier tips to implement, so I highly encourage you to do so. Who doesn’t like sleeping?
Time with Loved Ones/Hobbies
Here’s a fun tip! A way to cope emotionally with stressors is by spending time socializing with friends or doing a hobby that brings you joy and relaxation. Studies even show that spending time with pets can greatly reduce anxiety levels.
Anyways, talking to friends and family about your stress can release stress blocking hormones and even help you solve the problem that’s bothering you. Just make sure you also are willing to listen to and support your friends when they’re struggling to avoid a one sided relationship.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
When I was researching for this article, this tip seemed the most intriguing to me- you lay down in a comfortable position and take deep breaths. When you’re fully relaxed, you start tensing and then relaxing your muscles one by one, starting at the bottom with your toes and then working your way up to your head. This makes you relaxed and can even help you fall asleep (throwback to tip 3!).
Hopefully, these tips will help you remember to take a break once in a while and do something to reduce your stress levels, and remember that these tips are guidelines and can/should be modified to work for you. Most importantly, remember that coping is a journey, not a one time event.