Seven Ways to Overcome Stress


The author shares what to do when you're too busy to breathe.

1. Admit you're stressed. Is your life so packed with things to do that you can't seem to get anything done? Do you have a gnawing pain in your stomach that won't go away? Do you often forget things that you're supposed to do? Are you tired, short-tempered, discouraged? If you answered yes to most of these questions, you're stressed. So admit it, then…

2. Make a list. Write down everything you're involved in, from debate team to math club to youth group to your part-time job. Estimate how much time each week you spend in these activities, as well as how many hours you pour into homework, helping around the house, building friendships, and anything else that requires a significant chunk of your time.

3. Take your list to someone you trust. This person could be your Bible study leader, youth pastor, adult mentor, a mature Christian friend, or one of your parents. Have this person go over the list with you. Talk about why each item is important to you. Discuss your priorities—those things that are (or should be) most important to you.

4. Prioritize your list. Order your list from most important to least important. Determine what you need to cut out of your life, then cross those things off the list. Circle the things you want to keep no matter what. Evaluate the "in-between" items and resolve not to feel guilty if you don't do all of them.

5. Practice saying no. You simply can't say yes to everything. You've got to learn to say no, too. If you want to cut down on stress, you need to keep yourself from being over-committed.

6. Think about your use of time. You could be stressed because you simply don't know how to manage your time well. If you tend to procrastinate or are poorly organized, you need help using your time wisely. Ask your guidance counselor or an organized friend for tips on how to use your time better.
There are also many calendars and day-timers that can help you. Drop by your local bookstore and check out the planners and organizers specifically for students. But remember: A time-management tool is only as good as your commitment to use it. So if you purchase some kind of organizer, use it.

7. Keep God first. Isaiah 40:29-31 says, "[God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Place your trust and hope in God and make your relationship with him your top priority. As you do, you'll discover you really do have time for what's most important in life.

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