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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

July 29, 2016

Helping Teens Recognize and Reduce Stress

Stress is defined as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” While not all stress is bad, poorly managed stress negatively affects the immune system, making a person more susceptible to other diseases.

Identify the following stressors typical among student and help your students to recognize these:

  • test-taking
  • paper writing
  • parental expectations about grades and college
  • the lack of money
  • the lack of sleep
  • being ill
  • coping with social pressures from friends
  • the demands of extracurricular activities
  • having a job that takes away from study time
  • being involved in a romantic relationship (or the lack thereof)
  • dealing with demanding teachers
  • carrying unrealistic self-expectations

After helping students recognize stressors, share some strategies for stress reduction:

  • Vigorous exercise. Physical activity correlates well with mental acuity and psychological well being
  • Eat well. When you are run down physically, you’ll lack stamina to cope with stressors.
  • Prioritize. List what is really important. Do those things first. Eliminate as many non-essentials as possible.
  • Imagine the worst-case scenario. What would you do if this really happen? How likely is this to happen? Being prepared for the worst-case scenario will make you ready to handle it, if it ever should occur no matter how unlikely.
  • Listen to music.
  • Take a nap.
  • Distinguish between working hard and being a workaholic. Hard workers are focused and organized. Workaholics are disorganized, escape their problems with work, and don’t know how to relax.
  • Serve others. Jesus taught that if you lose yourself in service, you find yourself. Participate in a project that helps the less fortunate.
  • Accept your humanity. If your stress is self-induced, perhaps you are being unrealistic. Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Get help. Maintain a support group of friends or family and, as needed, school counselors and health professionals. Talking problems out is a stress reducer.
  • Pray.

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