As a teenager, you face the necessity of making many big decisions. You might not even realize how big some of the decisions you make truly are. Literally every day, you are making decisions that could impact the rest of your life. When you decide to do your homework or study to get good grades, that’s a big decision. If you choose to have a job, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, those are also big decisions. You will need to decide if and what type of test preparation you will do for college entrance exams, and you will be deciding if you’re going to college and where to apply. And all of this can be extremely stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Follow these steps and advice, and your stress level will decrease, and you will feel much happier.
- Remember that you are not alone. Most of your friends are going through similar stresses. Reach out and talk about it with them. Talk to your parents and other family members and family friends. Talk to teachers and teammates and anyone who will listen. Often, just talking about your stress and saying things outlaid really makes it dissipate.
- Give yourself a break. You don’t have to perfect. Just do your best and make the best possible decisions you can make at any given moment in time. This will serve you well throughout your entire life. It is impossible to see into the future to always know if this decision will serve you well, but just be thoughtful and do your best.
- You are allowed to make mistakes and they will not ruin your life. There is no single decision that will destroy you if you get it wrong. Seriously. If you don’t prepare for your tests and then do poorly, you can always take them again. If you don’t get in to the college of your dreams or choose the wrong one for you, you’re allowed to transfer to a different one. Even if you end up marrying the wrong person, your life is not over. Lots of people attend college later in life, switch colleges, get divorced and remarried, switch careers, and so on. You don’t always have to get it right the first time.
- If you hurt another person, you can repair the damage. Everyone has hurt someone in their lives. We don’t usually do it intentionally, but sometimes we just make bad decisions when we are feeling bad. You might have hurt a friend, someone you had a relationship with, a sibling, or even your parents. Instead of living with guilt and regret, take steps to repair the relationship. Take responsibility for how you hurt another person, and apologize. Let them know you never meant to hurt them, and that your behavior was inappropriate. And then don’t act that way again. This, too, will serve you well in your life. Even adults hurt people. But most of us have learned how to make things right after we do this. You can, too.
- Relax. Very few decisions are actually life and death decisions. Remind yourself of this daily. Learn to take slow, deep, breaths and to relax. Take time for yourself to do the things that help you relax and feel happy. Take a walk or a run, soak in a bubble bath, eat ice-cream, spend time in nature and with friends. The more relaxed and happy you feel, the better mindset you will be in to make good decisions for yourself, and to find ways to cope and adjust when you’ve made a mistake.