By Addyson Porter, Logan High School
As teenagers, managing stress is a task that we are faced with daily. From school work, to social drama, to anything else that may be going on in our lives, it can get overwhelming very quickly.
People find many different ways to cope with their stress. Most of these ways are simple and harmless. Some of them even turn into new hobbies for people to enjoy. There is no right way to handle stress. There is, however, a wrong way.
Turning to drugs as an outlet for stress is the wrong way to handle it. While it may seem like there is no other way to cope, there is always an alternative. Drugs are harmful and dangerous. Everyone knows this. This does not prevent many, many teens from turning to these illegal substances in an effort to calm down, though. As a teenager, I am choosing to stay drug free. I would like to share some of my favorite ways to manage stress as a drug-free teen with you.
Reading a good book
I have always enjoyed reading. There are many good books out there for you to choose from. BookTok has been a main source of reading suggestions for many teens recently, including myself. Taking the time for myself when I can just sit down, read, relax, and focus on the story is very calming. It is a form of escapism where I can distract myself from whatever may be stressing me out and travel into another world, which may or may not even exist in real life. This is also a cheap way to manage stress. Libraries offer free books, as well as borrowing them from friends or family. Reading is a great way to manage stress
Talking to friends and/or family
When I am feeling stressed, I like to talk to my close friends and family members. Allowing myself to acknowledge the problem and talk through it with someone close to me is a great way to think about the stressor, consider ways to fix it and hear someone’s else’s point of view. When you think about it in hindsight, the stressful situation may not even seem nearly as bad. Talking about my thoughts and feelings can help me to think more clearly and stay calm whenever I am feeling stressed. There are also many online resources that are entirely anonymous which allow you to talk to a professional therapist confidentiality.
Making time specifically for Self-Care
Personally, when I hear the phrase “self care,” I imagine an evening of relaxation and peace. When times get stressful, it can be easy to overwork yourself and forget to take time to focus on your physical and mental needs. By taking just an hour or two for yourself every other day, you can make sure that you are ready to face whatever the day holds. You cannot perform in your everyday life if you do not make yourself a priority. Burning the candle at both ends is unsustainable, and you cannot accomplish anything if you are burnt out and exhausted. While your schedule may not allow for excessive self-care time, try to find at least 10 minutes every day to put yourself first and replenish your mental and physical well-being.
If I have an assignment that is stressing me out, my initial reaction is always to put it off. If the thought of something makes me uncomfortable, I want to avoid it for as long as possible. Procrastination only seems to make the stress worse, though. If I can just get it over with, I am left feeling accomplished and calm. I do not have to worry about it anymore, and I can move on. Even if I can only work on it for a few minutes each day, just being able to know that I am working to get it done gives me so much peace-of-mind. While procrastination may seem easy, it ultimately creates more unnecessary stress. An easy way to reduce stress is to just get it over with.
Sports / exercise
It is scientifically proven that exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which make you feel happier and more relaxed. Many teens enjoy participating in school or league sports, which is a great way to relieve stress, keep busy and stay in shape. Also, being a part of a team is a great way to ensure that you stay drug free because many school teams will randomly drug test their players. Even if you will not get tested, it is difficult to participate in a sport or exercise if you are unhealthy from a history of drug use. Exercise is a great way to relax and focus on something other than whatever may be stressing you out.
No matter how stressed you may be, drugs are never the answer. There are many ways to relieve stress healthily and legally. The suggestions on this list may serve as a starting point for your new hobby (or hobbies).
If you are struggling with addiction, you can get help. One of these ways is to contact a helpline, which can be located by a quick online search. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, for example, can be reached by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or by texting HELP4U (435748). If you are considering turning to drugs as a way to cope with something going on in your life, please remember that there are many better alternatives. There are many ways to manage stress as a drug-free teenager.
This piece was written for FlipSide, the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s teen publication. You can read more stories written by teens for teens at wvflipside.com.