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Tips for teens

Teens can decrease stress with the following behaviors and techniques:

• Exercise and eat regularly.

• Avoid excess caffeine intake that can increase feelings of anxiety and agitation.

• Avoid illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

• Learn relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques).

• Develop assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings in polite, firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways: (“I feel angry when you yell at me” “Please stop yelling.”).

• Rehearse and practice situations that cause stress. For example, taking a speech class if talking in front of a class makes you anxious.

• Learn practical coping skills. For example, break a large task into smaller, more attainable tasks.

• Decrease negative self talk: challenge negative thoughts about yourself with alternative neutral or positive thoughts. “My life will never get better” can be transformed into “I may feel hopeless now, but my life will probably get better if I work at it and get some help.”

• Learn to feel good about doing a competent or “good enough” job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others.

• Take a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening to music, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, or spending time with a pet can reduce stress.

• Build a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way. Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry