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Holiday-Year-End Crunch? Stress-busters for Teens!

Ah December! Often dubbed the most wonderful time of year when families and friends gather for festive fun and celebrations. For students, however, the magic of the season may not fully kick in until exams are over and winter break has begun. More often, holiday activities seem to add a few more turns when you’re already tightly wound up with a long to-do list and important deadlines. You want to be a part of the fun and games of the season, but you still need to turn in reports and prep for finals. Stressed out? Don’t worry. Here are some simple ways to keep the holiday spirit while wrapping up the semester (and the gifts!) without melting down like a spent candle.

Take a deep breath.

Have a holiday dinner and a paper due back-to-back? Ready to burst with tension? Just breathe. Start by inhaling slowly and exhaling deeply. It’s not mumbo-jumbo, but a scientific fact that deep breathing triggers the body’s natural relaxation response. You’ll feel calmer immediately as you increase the supply of oxygen in your brain and stimulate your nervous system. Best of all, you can do it anytime, anywhere, without anyone noticing!

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Limit the junk food.

Nutritious food nourishes the body and fuels the mind. When you eat well, you feel better, study smarter, and score higher. Healthy food can also lower stress and can keep you healthy . Of course, this is the holiday season, and sugary, fatty, calorie-heavy goodies can be found everywhere you turn – yum! Go ahead, have some. Just don’t overdo it.

Get enough sleep.

If you feel run down or tired, you’re really not going to do so well taking exams, turning in papers, or even playing video games with your cousins at a family gathering. Pulling all-nighters has been proven to do more harm than good. According to this article sleep deprivation and stress form a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. Set a study schedule for your finals, but do put down the books so you can catch a solid eight hours of zzz’s.

Set priorities.

The holidays are a hectic time with high demands. Your friends are most likely in the same boat as you are. Take on what you absolutely must, and the rest can wait until you’re on vacation. Plan to spend time with your friends worry-free during winter break. Even with family engagements, it’s okay to decline if you’re under a tight deadline. Your family will understand that school should be priority #1.

Make a schedule.

End-of-year stress may seem overwhelming, but you’re already in the home stretch. Make a list of everything you have to do, and put your to-do list on your calendar, making sure you give yourself enough time. If you’re the kind of person who needs three drafts before you’re done with your essay, start writing earlier, not the night before it is due. And make sure to mark off completed items – a big, bold “X” would do the trick – it’ll make your feel good to see the list shrinking!

Get moving.

Exercise is a well-known stress buster. A short run or shooting a few hoops outside will invigorate you and help keep your blood flowing. Leash up the dog and stroll around the neighborhood to admire all the colorful lights and décor. The fresh air will do you good, even if you only go out for 20 minutes. Balance your schedule to make some room for active hobbies.

Take breaks.

Take timeouts that will help you recharge your emotional batteries. Make time to relax, listen to music, enjoy hobbies and holiday events. Just because you’re up against finals doesn’t mean you can’t take a breather to make a gift for a friend or bake cookies with your siblings. A healthy balance of fun activities can make a stressful schedule feel more manageable.

Create an inviting study space.

If you’re going to spend a significant amount of time in your study space, make sure that it’s inviting and comfortable. Sitting at your desk for several hours? Add some festive holiday décor to set a merrier mood and balance your work with play. As long as the space is quiet and you can concentrate, go ahead and have a little fun with it!

Study socially.

Getting together with friends to prep for a history test can be less stressful than doing it alone (unless group-study doesn’t work for you). You can gather at a friend’s home for some holiday cheer and then bust out the books. If you’re not able to meet in person, you can still “meet” online to work together. .

Ask for help.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to others for some help! Your friends and classmates can help you study. Your family and teachers would be happy to help too. Ask teachers for a bit of one-on-one guidance. Have your parents quiz you on your course content, or just help you de-stress and unwind a little by listening to you.

These tips should help you keep the stress manageable and stay on track as you finish up the year. And bonus tip: these ideas work for everyone – not just students! Feel free to share with anyone you know who could use some tips on de-stressing. Do you have your own favorite stress-busters? We’d love to hear about them. Good luck and happy holidays!

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