What are the steps I need to take to prevent myself from feeling depressed?
1. Be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t handle. If your homework load is too heavy, tell your teachers or your parents that you need help dealing with all of it. If a classmate is bullying you in school, talk to a counselor about intervening on your behalf. Never suffer in silence! Some problems only get worse when you ignore them and pretend that they’ll go away. Making the proper decisions to get help will make you feel better in the long run.
2. Set realistic goals and stick with them. If you know you’ve been struggling in social studies, don’t convince yourself that you’re going to get a 100 on the next test. Pressure of this sort will only increase your stress and anxiety if you fall short of the goal. Instead, focus on a more realistic score. If you’ve been regularly receiving Cs on your homework assignments, maybe you can commit to elevating your test score to a B. Achieving a more realistic result will help motivate you to keep studying hard so that earning a 100 in the future becomes more obtainable.
3. Don’t succumb to isolation. Often times when we get stressed out, it feels normal to retreat inside our “shells” as we struggle to cope with each day’s challenges on our own. That’s the exact opposite of what we should do! Open up and connect with those around you when you feel down. Visit your elderly neighbor when you feel bored, frustrated or anxious. Offer to help him mow the lawn or walk his dog. Grab a broom and sweep up litter on the street. Go door to door and collect unused books for a neighborhood book drive. Help your Mom pack up old clothes to donate to the Goodwill. Helping others will make you feel better about yourself. Being kind allows you to focus your energies on something positive instead of falling prey to the negative side effects of stress. By nature, human beings are social creatures; we rely on one another to survive. How so? Think about this the next time you sit down at the dinner table with your family. Look at the broccoli on your plate. Think about how it got there. Farmers broke the ground and planted the seeds to make it grow. Field workers harvested and washed the broccoli when it reached maturity. Truck drivers loaded it up and transported it across the country. Supermarket employees stocked it in attractive displays in the produce department. The cashier rang it up, then your dad paid for it. Your mom washed and cooked it for dinner for your family. See how many people helped to bring your broccoli to your plate?
4. Spend time doing things that you enjoy. If schoolwork or other responsibilities are getting you down, make sure you also allow time in your life to relax and take part in hobbies that make you happy. According to the fitness magazine, Shape, studies have shown that taking part in hobbies can lower your heart rate, a factor that decreases the likelihood of stress-related heart disease. Learn more about exercise and stress. Whether it’s riding your bike, reading, or knitting, hobbies give us the chance to appreciate life at a slower pace, one filled with activities that bring us joy.
5. Express gratitude. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own troubles, we fail to realize that the good things in our lives far outweigh the bad. You might get upset when your big brother uses up all the hot water during his morning shower. Your shower is tepid at best, so your morning is already off to a bad start. But what would happen if you took a moment to rethink your attitude? True, your brother left you almost no hot water, but how would you feel if you lived in a country where there was no access to safe water at all? What if, like millions of kids around the world, you had to spend hours every day collecting water from sources that were dirty and unhealthy? Suddenly, the fresh water shower that you took this morning doesn’t seem so bad, right?
Instead of focusing on what’s missing in your life, make time to say “thank you” for what you do have. When you feel annoyed because your Dad told you to vacuum the living room, turn your thoughts around. Stop for a moment and consider, “I’m grateful that we have a nice house. I’m glad that my Dad goes to work every day to provide a good place for me to live. I will show him how much I appreciate him by listening and helping out.” Your positive thoughts will help reduce your stress, your parents’ stress, and make you feel like a valued member of the team.