When your skin breaks out, you might chalk it up to hormones or those greasy fries you ate. But stress could be the real culprit. It comes from any event you find hard to handle, like a fight with a friend, cramming for a test, or problems at home. Find good ways to deal with your stress, and you can feel — and look — your best.
Friends Seem Super Annoying
When all your friends suddenly get on your nerves, chances are you are over-stressed. That can make you grumpy and impatient.
It sounds weird, but try to smile and laugh with your friends even if you feel annoyed. Making yourself smile can change how you feel. Laughing is one of the very best ways to ease stress.
You’re Always Tired
Stresses that last a long time, like family problems or bullying, can wear you out. So instead of feeling tense, you feel tired or sad. Sneaky, right?
Fight back with exercise. Dancing, sports, or running can help you relax, give you energy, and improve your mood. The good feelings kick in quickly and can last for hours. And don’t forget to get the sleep you need every night — at least 8 hours.
Your Heart Is Racing
OK, this one isn’t a huge surprise. A thumping heart is part of your body’s prep for tough situations — called “fight or flight.” What else happens?
• Your eyes open wide to see more clearly.
• Your muscles get more blood.
• You sweat to cool off.
Mild stress like this can be a good thing. It can help you make the winning shot in a basketball game, for example. If you can’t relax later (like if stress makes it hard to sleep), talk with a trusted adult about your worries — and how to find a go-to way to relax every day.
Your Appetite Is Bonkers
When the pressure’s on, you may find you can’t stop wolfing down junk food, or you may not feel like eating much at all. Either way, unhealthy eating zaps your energy. Now you’re tired and stressed.
The best foods for fighting stress are fruits, veggies, and whole grains — along with protein to help keep your hunger in check, such as low-fat string cheese. Steer clear of chips, microwave pizza, cookies, ice cream, and other junk food — the energy vampires.
Your Mouth Hurts
If you get cold sores — those tingly blisters on your lips — stress can make them pop up more often. Canker sores are the painful ones inside your mouth. They also multiply when you’re stressed. You can ask your doctor about creams that may help.
Stress remedy? Make a list of activities and pressures, even dramatic friends. Where can you cut back? Or say no? Now, add 20 minutes to relax with music or take a walk outdoors.
Your Head Aches
Stress can tighten the muscles in the head and back of the neck. This can cause a tension headache, a dull pain that wraps around your head.
Block brain pain before it starts. Stretch often when you’re studying, or on your phone or the computer. Roll your shoulders and turn your head from side to side to help loosen your muscles. Bonus: Study breaks to move will get your blood flowing and may help you focus.
Your Stomach Hurts
Stress can be a pain in the gut — literally. The nerves in your stomach and intestines may feel pain more strongly when you’re under a lot of stress.
Learn to calm mind and body with deep breathing. Put your hands on your belly and breathe in through your nose. Feel your belly rise. Breathe out slowly through your nose or mouth. Do this for 10-20 minutes, once or twice a day. You’ll feel more relaxed and gain a calm energy.
Fit Fix: Accept Change
Change is one of the biggest causes of stress — whether it’s starting a new school or having a best friend move away. Learn to see it as a regular part of life … and you may not feel as stressed when things don’t go as planned.
Think of change as a challenge — and a chance to try something new. At times you’ll just need to make the best of a situation. Other times, an interesting new world may unfold before you.
Fit Fix: Solve What You Can
Think about what’s causing your stress. Is it next week’s math test? A fight with a friend? Instead of worrying and complaining, take action. Make a plan to solve the problem. Get help from a teacher or a tutor after school. Ask close friends or trusted adults for help when you can’t find a solution on your own.
Fit Fix: Think Positive
If a voice in your head keeps saying, “It’s too hard!” your stress may never get better. Negative thinking adds to your stress. What thoughts lurk in your mind?
Tell yourself you have the power to make positive change in your own life. Set goals and figure out what steps you must take to reach those goals. Believe that you can do it. And make time to do things you enjoy along the way.