1. That stress isn’t a bad thing. The body’s stress reaction is designed to make us perform well under threat or pressure. Problems only occur if stress goes on too long or the reaction is extreme.
2. To breathe properly. When stressed, we tend to breathe with just our upper chest; if we make our shoulders sink and the breathing movement happen below the ribcage, it’s instantly more relaxing.
3. To eat well. When stressed, we often rush or skip meals, or load on sugary foods. We need slow-release energy foods – cheese, nuts, fruit, seeds and yogurt are ideas for quick foods when we’re too busy or anxious to relax over food. And water is vital, too.
4. That all work and no play doesn’t just make us dull: it stops us working well. Our brains work better with regular breaks – proper breaks away from desk/screen, doing something different and relaxing.
5. That silence is golden. The modern world is full of noisy demands – especially if we’re online. School pupils, particularly, get very little chance to be alone, silent and free of instruction, offline. Bring back silent reading!
6. What we did well. People who are over-stressed often focus on negatives. We have to remind ourselves of what went well, what we (and others) did right.
7. The benefit of exercise. It can be the last thing you feel like or think you have time for, but the benefits to body and mind are proven. We work better and feel better afterwards.
8. The power of the senses. Scented candles, flowers, the colours of your walls, the feel of your clothing, all these and more can make a difference to how you feel.
9. That this is now and tomorrow will feel different. Whatever we’re worried or upset about now won’t feel the same in a month/year/whatever. Look ahead to that time.
10. That there are things we can control and things we can’t. We spend too much time worrying about the things we can’t. But we can, in fact, control more than we think, if we understand how our brain and body work.
The Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan is out now from Walker Books.