Slideshow: Healthy Ways for Teens to Relax

  • Teens relaxing while singing karaoke

    Belt Out Stress With Karaoke

    Singing feels great: Just ask the choir. A study of college choir members showed that students’ stress levels went down when they joined a singing group. But you don’t have to sign up for glee club -- or even have any talent -- to get the deep-breathing, stress-burning benefits. Just belt out your favorite song in the shower. Or do karaoke with friends -- that way, you’ll probably get the healing benefit of laughter, too.

  • Teen girl relaxing outside

    Get Outside

    Research shows that being outside -- or even being able to see nature from your window -- is good for your emotions. Don’t live in the country? Try walking or biking to school, if you can. Or take some time to walk a few blocks from your bus stop or your parents’ car, or take your homework to the park. Even a few minutes to look for shapes in the clouds just outside your door can be relaxing.

  • Teens laughing off stress

    Laugh It Off

    Research has shown that having regular LOL moments -- even thinking about laughing -- can boost your immune system and keep your body from making too many stress hormones. So when you’re sitting around with friends, see who can tell the dumbest joke. At home, ask your folks to get out their high school prom pictures -- that’ll get everyone cracking up.

  • Teen girl dancing with tambourine

    Dance It Out

    Research has shown that classical music calms you down during stressful times. But listening to other music -- and dancing to it -- can help, too, by letting you dance out tension.

    Ever hear that saying, “Dance like no one is watching?” Just shut your bedroom door, turn up the volume, and really go for it. You won’t need to worry about how good your moves are.

  • Teen boy relaxing with guitar

    Find a Hobby

    And no, video games don’t count. In fact, one study shows that playing them while you text or have the TV on actually stresses your mind. So if you want to text, fine. But turn off the games while you do it, and vice versa. Better yet, spend time on other hobbies: reading, photography, painting, sports, or music -- anything that helps your mind relax.

  • Teen girls talking about stress

    Talk to a Friend

    Talking about your stress can make your problems seem less daunting, and you might even find that the person you tell has gone through the same thing. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your mom or dad, talk to your friends, your favorite teacher, or even the family pet. Research has shown that people with pets have less stress -- after all, cats and dogs are great listeners.

  • Teen girl meditating outside

    Just Breathe

    Think you have to be “deep” to meditate? Actually, you only have to breathe deeply. You can sit a certain way if you want, or you can just sit quietly and focus on your slow, deep breaths. Try repeating one word as you breathe out -- any word that makes you feel calm -- relax, breathe, peace. Or picture a relaxing place in your mind -- the beach, the woods, your grandmother’s kitchen. Try it for 5 minutes at first, and you’ll see how your heart rate slows and the rest of you calms down, too.

  • Teens playing basketball

    Rev Up to Wind Down

    Sometimes, stress makes you feel so pent-up that moving seems like the only way to release it. That’s your body’s flight-or-fight adrenaline working. If you don’t unload that bottled-up tension, it can give you headaches, stomachaches, or sleeping problems. A good workout -- a jog, a walk, even tossing a Frisbee -- can help your body release stress.

  • Teen girl practicing yoga

    Yoga

    People have been using yoga to relax for thousands of years -- because it works, and it can be pretty easy. Never tried it? Start with the calming “child’s pose.” Kneel and sit back on your feet, then, lean forward as far as you can with your arms stretched out on the floor in front of you. The goal is to try to rest your forehead on the floor. Look for yoga classes at your gym or community center, or follow along with videos or instructions for poses online.

  • Close up on teen clenching fist

    Progressive Relaxation

    It may sound complicated, but progressive muscle relaxation is a simple, tried-and-true method for relaxing your body and your mind. Start with your left hand and tense it -- then relax it. Do that 3 times with each hand, each arm, and then each leg. Why does it work? It kind of reboots your blood flow, and it forces your muscles to relax. Can’t fall asleep? Use this to help yourself drift off.

  • Teen boy practicing tai chi

    Tai Chi and Qi Gong

    Tai Chi (tie chee) and qi gong (chee gong) are ancient Chinese practices that have been shown to help cut stress. The poses are called forms and involve slow movements that sometimes mimic nature, such as “white crane spreads its wings.” Look for classes in your area or watch YouTube videos to get an idea of how it works.

  • Teens smelling flowers

    Smell Something Good

    It’s not just hype to get you to buy more bath products: Some scents -- lavender, rosemary, sandalwood, or bergamot -- can actually lower your stress hormones, research shows. You can find these scents in lotions and bath products. You may even be able to find dried rosemary in your pantry. Or try growing your own rosemary or lavender plants for a natural, stress-busting air freshener.

additional slideshows

quizzes

More