This little book helps you to develop a lifestyle that better fits what you would describe as your ‘perfect life’ With many goal setting ideas and life organization strategies, there’s something for everyone. At the very least, it offers a useful and entertaining read; used to the fullest, its many practical ideas can help you develop a happier and less stress-free lifestyle.
What’s more, if you’re busy, stressed and feel that it’s almost impossible to find quiet time to meditate every day, you’re in luck: you can learn to meditate anywhere you are, and get things done while you do it!
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1) Looking to Religious Faith
Some teens will tell you that the best stress relief comes through religion and prayer. Some teens, such as fifteen-year-old Cassie, grew up in a religious home. “Religion has always been a part of my life,” Cassie says. “I won’t say that I have no stress, but I think that having faith sometimes helps. Getting ready for religious holidays can be really stressful, but you do get a secure feeling when you have all of those family traditions.”
Surprisingly, many adults are discovering religion for the first time, either because there was no religion in the home or because they were not paying attention. “I started doing drugs when I was only thirteen,” says Randy, who is now twenty-three. “I think it was a response to stress. I was as low as you could get and still be breathing. My parents finally got me into a rehab program. That’s when I learned that you don’t have to carry the weight of the world all by yourself; there is a higher power, if you want to call it that, who can help. I’m not a very religious person, but I think religion has helped relieve a lot of my stress.”
2) Make Decisions Yourself
In order to avoid the stress that comes from peer pressure, you need to think for yourself. Decide if a situation is right for you without judging others. Your self-esteem will be boosted when you know that you can make your own decisions.
“Some of my friends were putting a lot of pressure on me to do drugs with them,” says sixteen-year-old teenager. “It was causing me a lot of stress, until I decided that drugs just did not fit into my plans for the future. I made a decision, and I feel good about it. The stress is gone, at least in that part of my life.”
Making your own decisions is an important step in the maturation process. As you learn to evaluate situations and to react according to how you feel is best, you are discovering how to rely on yourself. You are learning to develop an inner strength that will be with you for the rest of your life. You will learn how to live with both good and bad decisions, and this experience will help you make better choices in the future.
3) Talking to Yourself
Talking to yourself helps to relieve stress by clarifying your problems in your own mind; helping you establish goals, set priorities, and get organized; and creating a positive attitude. Often you can take charge of your problems and your life and work to resolve your own issues. Taking charge of your life also means taking responsibility for your own emotions. You do have a choice. You can bring your emotions under control.
Talking to yourself is good, but you are not the only person you need to talk to. Teens often feel that they have to keep to themselves, but it is important to talk and to share with others: family members, friends, or counselors and other professionals.
Talk to yourself and others, take time to relax, and find the positive side of things. By keeping in touch with how you feel, you can give your mind what it needs to cope with a stressful situation.
Mental imaging can help you respond positively to stress. If you have to give a speech, sing a solo in the choir, try out for cheerleading, or interview for a job, you probably anticipate that you will have some stress. Along with your preparation and rehearsal, try a “mental rehearsal,” too. Visualize your performance, but also visualize the stress that you will feel and the best way to respond to that stress. A ”mental rehearsal” can give you added confidence. It can positively affect your performance as well as your physical responses to stress. Mental images can help you relax.
Neal likes to think of lying on the beach. “Believe it or not, I like to do math problems in my head when I want to relax,” says Della. “When you’re doing math, you can’t worry about anything else; and anyway, if I make a mistake, who’s going to know?”
Writing can also help to reduce stress. When you write about the stressors in your life, you can clarify what is causing your stress, and you may come up with some solutions. Writing essays or poems helps to release tension. “Writing about my problems helps me feel better,” says Carlos, fifteen.
You can keep a journal and write something every day, or write only occasionally. Have a special notebook and pen for your writing. Write about the causes of your stress, but write about the nice things in your life, too. Just writing down your feelings and your worries is a way to relieve stress. If a family member or friend is ill or has died, write about that person and your good memories. Through writing, you can clarify your problems in your own mind. If you like to draw or paint, you can illustrate your feelings that way, or create pictures to go with your writing.
Fourteen-year-old Tess used writing to help her cope with stress. “When my little sister, Liza, was injured in a car accident, she was in the hospital for several weeks. Then she came home in a body cast. Mom took care of her most of the time, but sometimes I had to stay home to help. I really had mixed-up feelings. I wanted to help my mother and be nice to my sister, but I also wanted to be with my friends and do things for myself. I didn’t think it was fair. I got so upset about it that I started to feel sick.
“One day, when I was home and Liza was sleeping, I decided to write about my feelings. I wrote a little every day after that. Just writing down the things that I couldn’t tell my mother or my friends helped me feel better. I even wrote a story to tell Liza. She liked it, and that made me feel better about her and about myself.”
Compile lists, too. When you have a decision to make, make a pro and con list: jot down everything in favor of a particular action, and everything against it. This will help you weigh the decision. When you feel you are making a good decision, it gives you a sense of control. That is a positive way to reduce your feelings of stress.
Sometimes stress comes from the feeling that you have no control over your problems. When you always rely on others to solve your problems, you lack control. However, when you work on solving your problems yourself, it gives you a sense that you can overcome difficulties. It gives you a feeling of self-worth and boosts self-esteem.
When you are under stress, or if you think a situation may begin to cause you stress, take a step back to understand the real problem and the best way to approach it. Size up the problem and consider the options to resolve it. Take time to think things through. Today is not the only day of your life. Think about alternatives, explore options, and look in new directions. You are putting yourself under pressure when you try to make immediate or impulsive decisions. Also, if you make a decision too quickly, you may realize later that you actually had other options that you did not take the time to consider.
Use a step-by-step plan to solve problems and reduce stress. Here’s one approach.
• Identify the problem. What is the problem causing the stress? Focus on the true problem.
• Explore solutions to the problem. Look at a variety of options for solving the problem. Be realistic; keep in mind your goals and values. Prioritize your solutions based on how realistic and effective you think they may be.
• Try one of the options and see if it helps solve your problem. First, try the solution you think is best. If it doesn’t work, try another.
You need a variety of coping options. Different situations call for different approaches, and you need to be able to choose your strategy. When trying to cope with a stressful situation, you may be able to change the stressor by modifying or eliminating it. On the other hand, you may have to change your own routine or lifestyle to avoid the situation. You may have to change your thinking: The situation might seem less stressful if you look at it with a more positive attitude.