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Eat well and get enough rest

It may seem obvious but a healthy diet and getting enough sleep can really impact how you handle stress. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 8 to 10 hours of sleep for teens. And Science Daily reports on a recent study by the University of Alabama that, β€œthe effects of sleep problems on greater cortisol release during stress were stronger in females than in males, suggesting that adolescent girls may be more sensitive to disrupted and poor quality sleep.” So much impacts our sleep. Teen naturally have bio rhythms that have them up later in the evening and needing to sleep later in the morning. Add cell phone and social media use, heavy homework loads and stress and getting enough sleep can be hard to do. As hard as it is to get the recommended sleep, make an effort. Taking a nap may also help alleviate stress.

A healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole foods is important too. Getting enough vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients will help you function best and ward off stress. Sugary foods can make your blood sugar increase too quickly and leave you without energy shortly after. For more good nutrition advice for adolescents, visit John Hopkins.

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Enjoy Nature and exercise

Nature can have a powerful effect on your mood. Even looking at a vase of flowers or a small garden can help. Yet, National Geographic reports that only 10% of teens get outside every day! For my project I planted flowers outside of the relaxation room. The girls also have access to a vegetable garden. Even if it is only for a few minutes, get outside and enjoy some fresh air.

Exercise is also a great way to alleviate stress. According to an article in US News and World Report:

Studies show that exercise has the following benefits for teen mental health:

  • Positively impacts levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mental health.

  • Releases endorphins, the body's natural "happy chemicals."

  • Lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol .

  • Stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which improves mood.

  • Increases self-esteem and body positivity.

  • Helps teens sleep better.