For a lot of us, it feels like massive amounts of stress are simply a fact of life these days. If you’re feeling more stress, anxiety, and general overwhelmed-ness lately, you’re not alone: as of spring 2022, a majority of Americans feel completely stressed out. Why? Take your pick:
- World events
- The pandemic
- Cost of living
For young entrepreneurs like you, we can add:
- College applications
- Afterschool activities
- Social media
- Friendship dramas
- Family obligations
- Running your own small business
The bad news is that there will always be at least some stress in your life. You’ll always have deadlines and responsibilities. But the good news is that stress is manageable. Here are the 7 best ways to manage stress in your life so you can be happier, healthier, and more successful.
1. BE MORE MINDFUL
We know: that sounds like such a cliché. What does it mean to “be more mindful,” and how can you do it?
Let’s start with your instincts. Despite the massive growth of technology and industry around us, our brains are only slightly more evolved than those of our primitive ancestors. This means we still have strong fight-or-flight responses to perceived threats. The problem comes when everything around you is perceived as a threat. An upcoming deadline for an AP English essay is not the same as, say, being chased by a mountain lion.
Learning to be mindful is a way of letting your fight-or-flight instinct know that you are not running for your life from an apex predator. Instead of sleepwalking through your day, take moments to notice where you are and what you’re doing right now. Take deep breaths and look around you. Notice the textures you can feel, like your classroom seat under you or a breeze on your face. Labels the colors you see. Repeat to yourself that you are safe.
2. PRACTICE GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE
Nothing beats a good night’s sleep in terms of staying healthy and happy in life. However, we know that young entrepreneurs are busy people. In fact, teens these days are busier than ever. Mostly that’s good: you’re involved in a lot of activities, you’re working hard in school, and, of course, you’re on a very positive entrepreneurial journey.
When you don’t get enough quality sleep, though, it can affect your physical health as well as your overall stress levels. Those problems, in turn, affect your ability to focus, stay calm, and do better in school. So, while sleep may feel impossible, get yourself into the habit so that you can be your best self in all aspects of your life.
3. DEAL WITH YOUR PROBLEMS
Everyone has problems. Your teachers, mentors, parents, and friends all have problems. Yet, it may seem like some people handle them better than you do. Why is that?
For starters, some people understand how to recognize the difference between a major problem and a minor irritation. Not being able to meet up with your friends this weekend because of family obligations is a minor irritation (really). Constantly losing track of your homework assignments is a major problem.
Once you’ve sorted out the major problems from the minor irritations in your life, think of ways to address them. Try not to obsess over the minor irritations. Tackle your major problems head-on and they will be less likely to cause you stress.
4. CATCH THOSE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
When you’re already overwhelmed, it’s easy to spiral down thinking about worst-case scenarios. To help yourself manage stress, work on catching those thoughts as they come up in your mind and replacing them with positive thoughts instead.
This is a practice that will take some time and effort on your part. Start by paying attention to your thoughts during particularly stressful times of the day – on the way to school or doing homework. Then, ask yourself:
- Is this thought true?
- Is it helpful?
- Do I have proof that this is real?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” try to reframe your thinking. Turn something like, “I’m never going to pass this class,” to “I’ll make a note to ask for help by the end of the week.”
5. BE KIND TO OTHERS
An act of kindness will not only make someone else happy, but it can also help you feel better, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, performing an act of kindness can “decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, which directly impacts stress levels.”
Being kind may seem like the last thing on your mind when you’re stressed out, but trust us, it’s worth pushing yourself to try. Hold that door open for someone. Say “please” and “thank you.” Give someone a compliment. Take the time to put away your phone and play with your younger sibling. These small things can add up to a lot of de-stressing!
6. TAKE A BREAK
Breaks don’t have to be long or formal. If you don’t have time to do an hour-long yoga class, try standing up and stretching your limbs a little bit. Don’t know how to meditate? Download one of the many apps out there designed for absolute beginners. Even just closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and zoning out for 5 minutes can help your mind and body let go of stress.
Turns out, that the old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is true! A good, hearty laugh helps your body suck in more oxygen, which fires up your brain and increases your level of endorphins (feel-good chemicals). Laughing also cools your nervous system down, allowing you to de-stress almost instantly. Over time, laughing a lot improves your immune system and can even act as a physical painkiller.
We know you know where to find laughter. Make sure you bookmark your favorite TikTokers, YouTubers, and podcasts so they are instantly accessible when you need them the most. Better yet: watch with friends and share the laughs with people you love and trust!
Stress may be a fact of life, but it shouldn’t control you. Learn how to tame your stress, and you’ll see major improvements across your life almost immediately!
The Kantner Foundation is proud to offer college scholarships to Florida’s high school entrepreneurs. To learn more about our program, and to start your application, click here.