Take control of your stress — discover your stress busters
Most people think of stress as a bad thing, but some stress is natural and can even be beneficial. A little stress can make you feel more alert and boost your memory. This could be helpful when studying for a big test, preparing for a big game, or getting ready to meet a person you want to impress. But stress can harm your health when it lasts for days, weeks, or months.
You may not be able to control the things that make you feel stressed. But there are ways to manage those feelings and preventing stress from doing unnecessary harm.
We each have different things that stress us out. You may feel upset about something that doesn’t bother your friend. You probably handle stress in different ways too. It’s important to discover your own stress busters. A stress buster is something you can do to relieve stress. When a stress buster is not enough, talk to a trusted adult about how you’re feeling.
What happens when you’re stressed?
Long-term stress causes chemical disruptions in your body that can harm your health. While you can’t see what’s going on inside your body, there are some things you might notice about yourself when times are tough.
unable to concentrate
You may feel worried, nervous, anxious, sad, angry, tired, overwhelmed, or unable to concentrate. Some kids have stomachaches, headaches, or tense muscles when they’re feeling stressed.
Stress can also affect how you act. When you feel stressed, you may:
- Not be able to get schoolwork done on time. You put it off because you just can’t concentrate.
- Eat foods that you think will make you feel happier, like sweets. Unfortunately, relief from food does not last very long. Eating sweets when you’re stressed sets the stage for trouble later, such as weight gain.
- Skip meals because you don’t feel like eating. This leaves you low on energy.
- Skip exercise because you feel overwhelmed or too tired.
- Try to distract yourself from your worries by watching television, surfing the web, and using social media. In the end, you’re spending time sitting around rather than moving your body.
- Have trouble sleeping at night, and then feel tired the next day. You may take a nap, but this continues the cycle of not being able to sleep.
- Act out, talk back to an adult, or cry easily.
Discovering your stress busters
It can be hard to fix things that cause stress. But there are ways to make yourself feel better and keep stress from harming your health.
Exercising regularly, eating well, limiting time watching videos or scrolling through social media, and getting enough sleep can help you to manage stress.
There also are some fun and easy ways to help yourself refocus, relax, and de-stress. You can do them just about anywhere. Some kids discover that breathing deeply, tensing and relaxing muscles, or picturing something peaceful is a good stress buster. We recommend you try different methods multiple times — you may need a little practice — to find out which ones work best for you. You may want to play relaxing music when practicing these stress busters.
Breathing deeply: Breathing deeply, sometimes called belly breathing, is one of the best ways to manage stress throughout the day. It increases oxygen supply to your brain, which can have a calming effect.
Tensing and relaxing muscles: By tightening and then relaxing your muscles, you can learn when your muscles are tense and how to relax them. Start with your feet and toes. Work your way up to your neck and face.
Picturing something peaceful: What makes you feel relaxed? Is it lying on the beach? Sitting by a campfire? Dancing in the rain? Watching fish in a tank? Sitting on a rock in the woods? Seeing the colors of the rainbow? Gazing at the moon and stars in the sky? Something else? Whatever you choose, picturing yourself in a peaceful place can help you let go of stress.
My Stress Busters: Figure out your favorite stress busters. Download the worksheet
My Stress Tracker: People who use trackers are more likely to take control of their stress. Try it! Download the tracker