This post received some attention this month, so I thought I’d repost it.
As we near the end of a semester, the stress for students amps up even higher that normal and it’s often accompanied by feelings of depression or bouts of anxiety. At the college level, there isn’t much I can do to assist students who procrastinated and pay the price for that delay. But, I did receive a long-distance Email from a high school teenager who was feeling stressed, down, and wondered what he could do to work out of that. Since I know a lot about being a teen with stress and depression (because I struggled with it too), I offer these 10 action steps. I wrote them quickly, so I’d love to hear what you think about this list.
So, without further delay, here is my 10-step list to deal with stress:
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night, drinking lots of water each day, and exercising outside (if the weather holds).
- Cut back on sugar (and this means cutting carbs too) and caffeine. You’ll be surprised how much these contribute to feeling down.
- Eat an orange a day. And carrots. The physiological side of eating well is not to be underestimated.
- Don’t watch movies or play video games for 72 hours. These are just escapes that build up the stress more when you’re done with them.
- Read a chapter a day of a nonfiction book on spiritual disciplines or leadership or read a biography of a great person.
- As for the stress, make a list of everything that’s stressing you out. Take 15 minutes and do that. Often making a list is helpful enough and shows that you can actually manage better than you feel you can.
- Look over the list and see what can be done quickly (in an hour’s time) and schedule to get them done soon. Within a day. Cranking off to-do items as ‘done’ eases stress immediately.
- Look over your “bigger” items to see when those stresses are gonna be over. Write that date down next to each one. This gives you perspective too. You know that this is just a short season of stress.
- Then, for the larger issues yet, pray about each one and remind yourself that God is in control. I don’t mean to overspiritualize, but often our stress is a contr0l thing and we’re trying to get it all done in our abilities.
- If one of the stressors still nags and creates anxiety or despair just by looking at it on your list… it’d be helpful to find a pastoral person or a godly adult with good listening/counseling wisdom and talk it through with him/her.
- (Hidden track point) It also be good to reflect on your stress to see if it’s just an adrenaline thing too. Some folks are addicted to adrenaline and haven’t ever learned to get things without it. So they wait until the deadline, stress a lot, and the adrenaline kicks in so they can accomplish something. It’d be good for you to learn how to get things done without having to stress every time.
What did I miss? What would you change? I’d love to have a “12-step” list when done, you know…..