By Beth Bryant
Let’s be clear about one thing: stress is a part of life.
It affects every human, and teen girls are certainly no exception. With so many different activities, commitments, and social pressures, girls are susceptible to plenty of stressors—especially when you add in hormones, technology, and relationships! It’s important for God’s Girls to learn how to manage everyday stress in order to be healthy and focused—and better serve the Kingdom of God.
Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to depression or anxiety. Stress can come from many directions, and it can be helpful to figure out where the greatest amount of stress is coming from so that you can better deal with it. For teen girls, stress can come from a demanding schedule, physical health and hormones, relationships with family, friends, and boys, or even from a sudden transition, like starting a new school or moving to a new place.
Once the source of stress is identified, you can take practical steps to get it under control:
Managing Your Schedule
- Prioritize your activities. Even if an activity is good, it might not be a wise idea to add it to an already overflowing schedule. Prayerfully and critically consider what can be cut from your schedule to give you more free time.
- Make time to relax. Spend a small amount of time each day, even just 20 minutes, on something you enjoy. Do you like to read? Ride a bike? Color, draw, or crochet? Low-key activities you can put down and pick back up easily are great for getting some “you” time.
- Sync a family calendar. If you can see everyone else’s commitments in the same place, it will help you be more prepared for things like meals and rides, and cut down on stress.
Staying on Top of School
- Keep a planner that contains due dates and reminders to keep track of tests and projects. (And actually USE IT!)
- Plan your day. Make sure you schedule time to study—if you can, the same time each day.
- Ask for help. If you’re struggling with algebra or writing a paper, ask a teacher who can help you or give you pointers.
- Don’t wait until the last minute.
A Healthy You
- Track your periods. You might not be completely regular, but that’s okay. If you can figure out when they’re coming, you can prepare emotionally and otherwise.
- Get the right amount of sleep. Both too much and too little sleep can be damaging physically and emotionally. Studies show 9-10 hours is about the right amount for middle and high school age girls.
- Get some sunshine! Take a walk, sit by a window.
- Eat for nutrition. Toss the junk food (most of the time!) and opt for nutrient-packed foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain.
- Communicate with your parents/guardians. It may seem annoying, but lack of communication causes stress and plenty of arguments. Let them know what’s going on at school and how you’re feeling emotionally. Make sure you’re clear on what’s expected of you and do your best to honor them.
- Steer clear of “friends” who make you feel bad about yourself or pressure you into acting different from who you really are.
- Limit time with any one particular friend. It’s great to have a BFF, but even besties need space. Try to spend time with different people.
- Limit time on Instagram, Facebook, and other virtual social networks. Remember, people only share their highlights. Everything on social media isn’t real life!
- Focus on friendships with guys instead of intense romantic relationships—at least in this stage of your life. This will keep the stress level down and allow you room to figure out who you are and what you want in a guy when the time is right.
- Find a project to focus on. In the middle of big change like moving, starting a new school, family changes, or another life event, keeping up with a reading list or a creative project can help you stay centered.
- Talk to a trusted adult who can help you sort through your stress or hurt.
So, what now? Even after taking these practical steps, we aren’t guaranteed that everything will be easy. Life is still tough! Sin in the world messes up God’s perfect plan, so we have to deal with stuff like stress. But God loves us and promises in Hebrews 13:5 that He will NEVER leave us alone. Jesus understands what you’re dealing with, and in Hebrews 4:16, He tells us how to respond to our stress:
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
God tells us to ask for His help when we need it! The result?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)
When we take practical steps to manage our stress and rely on our relationship with God to give us the strength we need to respond to it properly, we can face stress with peace and confidence.
For a printable version of this list, check out the Resources page.