Managing Stress: Easy Ways to Feel Calmer
and More Relaxed
Feeling stressed out? You’re not alone. Many kids and adults feel worried or overwhelmed from time to time. But there are a lot of simple things you can do to help manage stress and feel more relaxed.
What is stress?
Stress is what you feel when you’re worried, scared, angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. It’s your body’s reaction to feeling pressure or tension. Some common stress triggers for kids and adults include School and homework Problems with friends Divorce or family changes Being bullied or left out Moving to a new place Tough situations at home Too much stress isn’t healthy. It can make it hard to sleep, focus, and even get sick more often.
When you feel stressed, your body reacts
When you’re stressed, your brain and body works harder than normal. You might notice: Faster breathing and heart rate Sweatier hands and feet Upset stomach, headaches Needing the bathroom more often Tension in the neck and shoulders This is your body’s way of preparing to deal with pressure or danger. It’s called the “fight or flight” response. But too much of it isn’t good for you.
Tips to prevent and reduce stress
Luckily, there are many simple things you can do to keep stress under control or help yourself relax. Try:
Get more sleep
Not getting enough sleep can make you less able to cope with challenges that come up throughout the day. Most school kids need about 9-12 hours of sleep per night.
Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated
Good nutrition gives your body and brain the fuel they need. Drink plenty of water too. Dehydration can make you feel bad.
Exercise and play sports
Moving your body helps release feel-good chemicals in your brain and can boost your mood. Get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
Take breaks from work or screens
If you have a heavy homework load, schedule mini play breaks. And be sure to take eye breaks from computers and phones too.
Spend time in nature
Research shows that spending time outdoors, looking at plants, trees and the sky, can lower stress. Walks and hikes are great for this!
Listen to relaxing music
Soothing tunes can lower heart rates and calm nerves. Make a playlist to help you unwind.
**Laugh out loud
Laughter instantly boosts your mood by sparking feel-good chemicals in your brain. Watch a funny show, read comics, or hang out with your silliest friends.
Talk about what’s bothering you
Bottling up feelings often makes kids and adults feel worse. Having someone who will listen helps! Tell a parent, teacher or friend what’s on your mind.
Try an arts & crafts project
Making something with your hands engages your senses, shifts your focus, and can put you in a flow state where stress melts away.
Practice deep breathing
Taking slow, deep breaths signals your body to relax. Breathe in through your nose, hold for 3- 5 seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat 5- 10 times.
Get a stress ball
Having something satisfying to squeeze can release tension and pent-up energy. Stress balls come in fun textures, colors and shapes.
Take a warm bath
Warm water has a profoundly calming effect on the body. Add some nice-smelling bubble bath or bath bombs to enhance relaxation.
Cuddle a pet
Playing with or cuddling a soft, furry companion has been shown to reduce stress and trigger the release of feel-good hormones.
Do yoga or stretch
Gentle poses, bends and stretches help relieve muscle tension, increase flexibility, and promote calm. There are kids’ yoga videos online.
Try guided imagery
This technique uses your imagination to direct your thoughts to a peaceful, calming place or scenario. There are scripts online.
Find positive ways to take your mind off of worrisome thoughts. Read a book or chat with a friend to shift your focus.
When you rush around, you put more pressure on yourself. Give yourself extra time for tasks so you don’t panic or worry about being late.
Write it out
Writing about feelings or worries gets them out of your head and can provide perspective. Keep a stress journal.
Perfectionism and self-criticism add to stress. Go easy on yourself, and realize that mistakes are okay. You’re still learning!
Planning ahead, tracking homework and tasks on a planner, keeping work organized, and cleaning your room can help you feel in control.
Ask for help
Taking everything on alone only adds pressure. Talk to a parent or teacher if you need clarification on assignments, tutoring with schoolwork, tools for organization, or even just emotional support.
Learning to manage stress takes practice, but you can control it with lifestyle changes and coping strategies. Try out some relaxing activities to find what works best to give your brain and body a break. Staying positive and taking problems one small step at a time also go a long way. Keep in mind that some level of stress will come and go throughout life – the key is building resilience, getting support when you need it, and finding healthy ways to provide your mind and body some relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do we stress?
We stress because our brain perceives something as threatening or difficult to cope with. This triggers cascade of stress hormones that put our body on high alert – the “fight or flight” response.
2. What are common stress symptoms?
Common symptoms include faster heartbeat, headaches, sweaty palms, upset stomach, muscle tension, angry outbursts, difficulty focusing, and changes in appetite or sleep.
3. Is all stress bad?
No. A little positive stress can help motivate us to prepare and perform our best in challenging situations. but too much for too long takes a physical and mental toll on health.
4. Can kids experience stress too?
Absolutely. School demands, peer issues like bullying, family changes with divorce or jobs, health problems, and trauma can all trigger kids to feel constant worry. This impacts focus, behavior, emotions, immune systems, and development.
5. What happens if I ignore my stress?
Unmanaged stress fuels anxiety disorders, depression, obesity, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, social isolation, anger, self-destructive behaviors, and more down the road.