- Kristen Stuppy, MD
6 tips to de-stress
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
We all have stressful things happen, but what can we do about it? Learning to de-stress is possible.
You’ve heard that exercise is good for your health, but you may not realize how great it is for your mind too. Or maybe you do realize it, but you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t think you have time for it.
Make the time. This one’s important enough that it should remain a priority when you’re busy.
Plus exercise has been shown to help clear your mind so you can focus and be more efficient at everything else you do. It helps you sleep better at night, which in turn helps you focus better and feel less stressed.
2. Cut back to limit stress
If you’re overwhelmed, prioritize what is important.
If you have a ton of difficult classes, maybe consider limiting that next semester. Instead of taking all AP or IB classes, pick the one or two that you feel are best for you and then the regular level of class for the other subjects. Take a fun elective that won’t involve as much homework. That can help broaden your skills and still looks good on a college application if you grow from the experience. Remember that colleges want well rounded students, not those who only eat, sleep, and study.
If you have an after school job, volunteer regularly, and are in a sport, maybe that’s just too much to do after your school day. Think about what is important and limit the extras. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, but maybe ask to limit hours after school. If you volunteer, limit when you go. Depending on what type of volunteering you’re doing, see if you can arrange things to work with your course load. If you are doing a bunch of little volunteer experiences that aren’t really interesting to you, maybe find something you’re passionate about and spend time with that one thing.
Remember that if you take on too much, you can’t do everything well, so you will not be your best. Mental health is more important than doing it all. Cut back and focus on what’s really important to you getting where you want to be!
As you’re cutting back, be aware of what’s important.
You can’t simply stop doing coursework if you’re a student or not finish tasks at work.
It’s not wise to cut back on the essentials of sleeping and exercise. These should always be entered into your planner so they get done.
You still need time to relax and be around your friends and family. Put that time in your schedule and make it happen.
I strongly feel that giving to others helps us on many levels, so doing volunteer service is great – but it should mean something to you. Don’t just do something because you feel like you need to do it. Find things you enjoy and help others using that passion.
It’s all about balance.
3. Eat healthy to decrease stress
We’ve all heard that we should eat healthy. It’s not new news at all that we should try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and complex carbohydrates.
Yet many of us fail to eat well for a variety of reasons. I know all the excuses, but we all need to problem solve to find solutions, not just grab another unhealthy snack and keep repeating the same mistake.
If you make a few adjustments each day, you’ll start noticing a difference in how you feel. Start by choosing water over soda or juice. Try eating a fruit or vegetable with each meal and snack. Pass on the crackers, cookies, and other junk foods. Try a new healthy food if you’re picky.
If you aren’t hungry mid-day due to medicine, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. This does not mean cereal. Healthy breakfasts that will last through the day include protein and fiber.
If money is an issue, talk to people who can help. Start with your school counselor.
I can’t stress enough how important sleep is.
We seem to underestimate the value and see it as time wasted.
Time management problems all day do not give you the excuse to stay up finishing homework.
You should never stay up to do something you wouldn’t get up early to do. For instance, you would probably not set your alarm to wake up and watch a YouTube video, right? That means you shouldn’t stay up “just a few minutes” later to watch it. Go to sleep. It will be there later.
Use all the night features your computer and phone offer.
Make sure your phone will never wake you if a friend tries to call or text in the middle of the night. Just because they’re suffering from insomnia doesn’t mean you need to be awake. Set the night mode. Tell your friends you won’t respond at night so they don’t keep trying. Blame it on your parents or your doctor. They won’t care. (And if your parents are following the standard recommendations, they will take your phone away an hour or two before bedtime…)
The blue light from your screen keeps the melatonin in your brain from rising. You need melatonin to feel tired. That means if you’re using any screen with normal lighting, you won’t feel tired and you’re likely to lay awake even if you go to bed.
5. Screen time limits
This seems to repeat what I just said, but there’s more. So much more that it’s covered in Screen Time Limits.
I covered this in detail, but want to remind you to check out some screen management apps that might help you take control of your phone and computer time.
Moment (currently iOs only, but Android version coming)
Forest is an interesting app that not only helps you stay on task, but you can earn points that helps to plant a real tree – helping our world
I’ll bet you underestimate how much time you spend online. Try the apps mentioned above. Use the knowledge gained about your use to adjust it to an amount that allows you to be productive and have time for the necessities of life.
It’s too risky to have full access to phones and all of their distractions 24/7. You’re fighting against an industry that invests in finding ways to get you hooked and wanting to spend more time on their content. We get dopamine hits each time we play online. Dopamine makes us feel good, so we want more.
6. Take 5
Take 5-10 minutes each day just for you. It’s not much time, and if you make the time, you’ll find that it pays back!
Set a dedicated time to reflect: What did you accomplish – celebrate the big and the little goals met. Are there things that can be high priority tomorrow. What are you thankful for?
You can go one step further and also make time throughout every day to be mindful. I’m still in the learning stages of this, and experts always talk about practicing mindfulness. We can all practice it daily. Find something that you do every day and link it to stopping to be purposefully mindful. Start a morning routine.
For more mindfulness tips and several free apps to help guide your mindfulness, see my Pinterest Mindfulness board. If you use mindfulness regularly, you will notice less stress.