Five Ways to Reduce Stress

You’ve got a physics test, an English paper due and a big track meet next week. Ooh, and don’t forget that dance everyone’s been talking up. If you find yourself inhaling food as you rush from the library to the mall or you notice a persistent ache in your lower jaw or the back of your neck, you probably need a little stress reduction. Here are five easy tips to help reduce stress:

1. Exercise.

You’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel if you take 30 minutes to practice yoga, go for a jog in the park or shoot some hoops. You’ll reduce those stress-inducing hormones and boost your endorphins (those feel-good chemicals). Engaging in a rhythmic activity like swimming also helps clear your head.

2. Spend some time with your dog.

Or, heck, even your MP3 player. Doing something you enjoy that isn’t stressful, like playing with a beloved pet or tuning into the latest from Alicia Keys, gives you a much-needed mental rest.

3. Take a break when studying.

Easier said than done, we know. But if you’re feeling anxious, you’re not going to be very productive and those chemistry formulas won’t stick. Walk around the block, grab a healthy snack or stand and breathe deeply. You’ll feel more relaxed if you take a break for just 10 minutes.

4. Laugh it up.

Make social time a stress-relieving outlet by taking in a comedy show or renting a funny movie. And don’t forget your sense of humor. So you tripped down the stairs in front of your latest crush, or you fumbled your words during your history presentation—turn your social faux pas into a funny story. Laughter produces some of the same feel-good endorphins as exercise.

5. Just say “No thanks.”

If all those social obligations make your head spin, you’re not going to enjoy them. Turning down a few will lighten your schedule and your stress. And sure, we know you need those extracurricular activities for your college applications, but you don’t need to take a leadership role in every one. Choose those that matter most to you and politely decline doing the others.

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