This series was published in partnership with Local Circles, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization that offers employment opportunities in youth-led research to increase college and work readiness for Detroit teens. Find out more about Local Circles.
In this essay, Detroit teen Stephanie Haney, a Local Circles participant, shares her tips for dealing with stress.
I know I stress out more than I should, and sometimes I just don’t know how to relax. I’ve tried different methods – some work for me and some just don’t, but they’re all worth a try.
Stress is not fun. You keep worrying about lots of things you shouldn’t, and when you try to relax, you can’t. Your mind is always worrying about more things. Either it’s a test or something you need to get done by a certain time. Stress can sometimes lead to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression and anxiety.
Here are some activities to try that can lower stress and help you relax:
Listening to music
Music can be effective for relaxation and stress management. The University of Nevada Counseling Services website explains that “upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life.” Meanwhile, “a slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day.” Baby lullabies can also help put a person to sleep no matter their age. Here’s an example of a YouTube video that helps me relax.
Eating can help reduce stress, especially if it’s comfort food. Charlotte Markey, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, wrote in a U.S. News & World Report article that “in times of stress, most people crave highly palatable foods, like chips, cookies and mom’s famous spaghetti with meatballs.”
She cites research that suggests these eating patterns may reduce hormonal stress responses. “In other words, our physiological response to stress may be tamped down,” she writes. “Stress-induced eating behaviors may also reduce anxiety and depression, both of which are associated with experiences of chronic stress.”
Sometimes people don’t like others to know about their problems – but you can write it out and throw it away without sharing it with others. You can try this method to reduce the amount of stress on your shoulders, and it might help you sleep better at night. A study by the American Psychological Association showed that writing can help to relieve stress by combating negative and intrusive thoughts. Writing is a stress reliever that can help clear your mind.
Talking with someone
Talking to someone can be helpful. A professional like a certified therapist can suggest coping strategies to help you with your mental health that you did not think about. Having friends or someone to talk to can also release stress. A late-night talk where they just listen or sit in a comfortable silence can help you relax a lot. They can give you some advice about how they might cope or reduce stress.
Listening to ASMR
ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, helps you feel relaxed and brings you to a happy place where you don’t have to worry about many things. Some good ASMR sounds to listen to are deep voices, rain drops, leaves crushing, tapping, breathing or even people eating. “For those who do experience it, ASMR has real and measurable effects,” a NewScientist video explains. “One study monitored people’s heart rate and skin conductance – a measure of emotional arousal – while they watched ASMR videos. Everyone’s heart rates slowed, but in people who experience ASMR, it slowed more.”
Even though too much TV can be bad for you, it can still help reduce stress. You don’t even have to watch TV; the noise from it can put you to sleep. “Some research has shown that using media can make you more relaxed, since it provides a momentary escape from whatever stresses are eating away at us,” a 2014 Time article states. So go ahead and watch Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu or your favorite show.
Taking a day to yourself
Everyone needs a day just to themselves. That could include sleeping, cleaning or listening to music. A day where you don’t have to worry about people, social media or assignments can help ease your mind. During your day to yourself, you can sleep in, go shopping or go see a movie.