Stress Management Activities for Teenagers—Learn To Manage Your Stress

If you are a teenager, you are certainly not unfamiliar with stress—at least, that’s what high school stress statistics show us.

Stress and anxiety in high school students are now more common than they have ever been before. You are not to blame for experiencing severe stress, but you do need to form healthy coping mechanisms to manage it. When you don’t take care of yourself and the negative thoughts and emotions you experience, you can develop anxiety and depression and suffer both short-term and long-term consequences.

Note that you have control over your happiness and your physical and mental well-being. Whether doing teen stress tests, playing stress management games, or meeting with your friends for coffee work best for you, you need to try and destress.  

Read on to gain plenty of ideas for how to relieve stress through conscious daily actions. Try any or all of them, form healthy habits, and get ready to take control of your life.

Stress Management Activities for Teens That Work

Credit: Sam Manns

Being under a lot of stress isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to take hold of your life. You can train yourself to recognize that a rough period is approaching and actively prevent extreme stress by recharging.

Here’s a comprehensive list of action plans, healthy habits, and stress-reducing activities to help you form your own coping mechanism:

  1. Read up on stress
  2. Install stress-reducing apps on your smartphone
  3. Meditate and do breathing exercises
  4. Journal about your daily trials and tribulations
  5. Keep a mood tracker
  6. Set up uplifting night and morning routines
  7. Get your hands busy
  8. Dance like you don’t have a care in the world
  9. Go out with friends and laugh, laugh, laugh
  10. Develop and stick to healthy habits
  11. Learn to give yourself a break
  12. Do hobbies that inspire you
  13. Talk to your teachers and school counselors
  14. Take stress tests and seek help if you need it
  15. Learn to recognize and prepare for stressful periods

Educate Yourself on Stress and Anxiety

Your first course of action should be to learn about stress and anxiety. Read up on:

Learning about the issues you are experiencing helps transform them from abstract notions you cannot deal with into concrete problems that you can find a solution for.

You can invest in a good anxiety workbook for teens to get started. The workbooks are packed with useful information and loads of advice for dealing with stressful periods and mental health disorders.

Install Stress-Reducing Apps on Your Smartphone

You have probably heard that spending too much time on your phone can only worsen your stress levels, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you like unwinding with your smartphone in your hand, you must give stress management apps a go.

Here are several suggestions for stress-reducing mobile apps that you can install for free:

Stress Management App Characteristics

Available On


  • Over 1,000 images to color
  • A wide variety of different themes, including animals, patterns, and florals
  • A feature that allows you to upload your original drawing
  • iOS
  • Android

Moodtrack Social Diary

  • Mood tracking in the app
  • Anonymous support chats
  • No internet access needed
  • iOS
  • Android

7 Cups: Anxiety & Stress Chat

  • 24/7 emotional support
  • Trained listeners
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • iOS
  • Android

Relax Melodies

  • Relaxing sleep sounds
  • Guided meditations
  • Bedtime stories 
  • iOS
  • Android

Keeping at least one or two stress management apps on your phone is super useful because you probably carry your phone with you everywhere you go. At any time when you feel like your stress levels have increased or your mood has suddenly dropped, you can tap the app icon and:

  • Chat with a volunteer therapist
  • Talk to strangers who understand what you are going through
  • Do a guided meditation
  • Color images and let your thoughts disappear

Meditate and Do Breathing Exercises

Meditation and breathing exercises as stress-reducing activities are a huge cliché, but they are such for a good reason. If you want to decrease your stress levels, you must quiet down your racing mind and realize what causes you to feel badly or continuously lose control of your days. Meditation can help you do that unlike anything else.

Even though the practice may seem easy on the outside and like it doesn’t require any effort, meditation is actually difficult to do right. It takes plenty of practice to tap into complete inner peace, but it pays off big time.

According to research, meditation and breathing exercises have many benefits, including:

  • Alleviating stress and anxiety
  • Increasing productivity
  • Expanding your attention span   
  • Making you feel connected to your inner self and the world around you
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Losing weight

Here are the common steps of a meditation process you should follow as a beginner:

  1. Get into a comfortable position—it doesn’t need to be any established pose as long as you are able to relax your body
  2. Acknowledge your thoughts—allow anything that goes through your mind to be, don’t fight it
  3. Accept all outside distractions—whether it’s traffic, your dog playing in the other room, or one of your parents preparing lunch, get comfortable with the noises, and they won’t distract you
  4. Breathe deeply—as you are letting your thoughts and outside distractions be, try to slow down your breathing
  5. Focus on every part of your body—for several seconds, pay attention to every part of your body to achieve complete relaxation
  6. Sit or lie still for at least ten minutes—as you go into deep relaxation, don’t get up until you have had at least ten minutes of practice

If you find you’re into meditation, practice every other day to get better at it.

Journal About Your Daily Trials and Tribulations

Writing is an amazing way to relieve stress. The trick is that you need to do it regularly.

Whether you prefer laptops or notebooks, take your writing tools and set aside a specific time for journaling at least several times a week. Pour all your thoughts into a string of sentences that don’t need to make any sense or be grammatically flawless. You’ll benefit from writing about your days because:

  • Acknowledging your stress is enough to make a majority of it go away
  • Transforming your emotions into words has the same positive effects as pouring your heart out to a real person
  • Reflecting on your struggles helps you realize why you are struggling and how to prevent it next time

You should also take care to note any positive occurrences in your life. Whether you write about a delicious coffee you had or your crush returning your text messages, including happy moments helps you:

  • Realize you always have something to look forward to
  • Be grateful for positive aspects of life
  • Acknowledge what brings a smile to your face and seek that out actively   

A bonus advantage of journaling is that you practice your writing skills so you can write better school papers, internship cover letters, and personal statements for college.

Keep a Mood Tracker and Spot Your Stressors

Credit: bujo.with.sara

An activity you can do both in a mobile app and with a traditional notebook is mood tracking.

Note what you felt like every single day in a month. You should assign different colors to different moods and mark each day with the color that matches the mood you were in for the good part of that day. Here’s an example:

Colors Moods
Black Depressed
Brown Angry
Grey Stressed
Green Jealous
Blue Sad
Purple Nervous
Pink Optimistic 
Yellow Happy
Orange Elated
White Hollow

You will go through an array of them in a single day. That said, tracking your mood shifts daily helps you notice patterns in your emotional state. You shed light on the issues or events that cause you to go through rough patches when you do. You can then brace yourself for them to feel the least amount of stress possible and learn to avoid stressors.  

Set Up Uplifting Night and Morning Routines

How you begin and end your day is crucial for your overall mood.

When you wake up grumpy and start performing your responsibilities while you are in that sour mood, it’s hard to shift your perspective later. Your day is likely to become more and more stressful as it progresses.

The same goes for going to bed. Stressed people tend to overthink before falling asleep. They analyze each little occurrence or conversation and anticipate all kinds of uncomfortable situations for the future.

Falling asleep after a session of negative self-talk affects your first thoughts the following day and the general mood in which you will wake up. It is indeed a vicious cycle. 

Enter positive night and morning routines. Give yourself a head start and wake up half an hour before you start your daily responsibilities. Devote that extra time to something that makes you happy. Whether it’s walking your dog while listening to a podcast or sipping coffee while reading an engaging novel, make sure to spend the first hour of your day doing what you love.

In the evening, take a break from ranting about your day—whether to a friend or in your head—and empty your mind for sleep. It’s the perfect time to do meditation, but anything else goes too. As you’re lying in your bed, visualize your perfect day or play soothing sounds from the Relax Melodies app.

Sticking to your routines improves the quality of your life and reduces your stress levels in the long run. Even the setbacks you encounter during the day will not affect you as strongly when you have made sure you started your day on the right note.

Get Your Hands Busy—Literally

Here’s an idea for what you can do immediately as you feel your stress is becoming overwhelming—engage yourself in a tactile activity.

Regardless of how urgent the task at hand seems, it’s not worth forcing yourself to be productive when your stress is soaring and your anxiety is acting up. Step away from what you are doing and get your hands busy in any way you prefer. This stress-reducing method also works when you don’t have anything to do, but you feel restless and stressed out.

Here are several ideas for how to get your hands busy and your mind relaxed:

  • Clean your room
  • Reorganize your wardrobe
  • Draw, color, paint, sculpt—whichever is your jam
  • Make a favorite meal or try preparing a new dish
  • Rearrange the books on your shelves
  • Practice playing a musical instrument

If none of these activities appeal to you, invest in a fidget toy for stress and anxiety to employ your fingers.

Dance With Yourself—Like the (Billy) Idol That You Are

Credit: SIM Graphic Design

In his 1980s hit, Billy Idol sings about dancing with himself because he can’t get the girl, but you can dance alone to relieve your stress—because it’s fun.

Play your favorite fast tracks and get crazy like no-one’s watching—because nobody is watching. If you have a pet, they don’t count, and they may even join and contribute to the stress-relieving effects of dancing.  

You can make a playlist for when you are feeling stressed and want to jump around in your room. The physical motion helps shake off any negative energy that’s cooped up inside.

Get Together With Friends and Laugh, Laugh, Laugh

Sam Manns

Laughing has strong stress-relieving benefits. Doing it with friends is even better than doing it alone. Recognize when you need to recharge and get together with the people you love. Get crazy cracking jokes and learn to laugh at each other—everyone will be happier for it.

Develop and Stick to Healthy Habits

Exercising often, keeping a steady sleep schedule, and sticking to a healthy diet are crucial for alleviating the stress that comes with your daily woes and responsibilities. Combined, the three habits:

  • Help keep you energized
  • Have lasting positive effects on your mood
  • Keep you physically healthy
  • Boost motivation and productivity

All three habits influence each other. For example, when you exercise regularly, you naturally feel sleepy when you should go to sleep. Eating healthy makes you strong and gives you the energy you need to stick to your workouts. 

Learn To Give Yourself a Break

When working on forming healthy habits and reducing your stress levels, it’s important to note that you will face challenges and break from your routine from time to time. When you accept the fact that you can’t feel like meditating, journaling, or working out every single day of your life, you will not be critical of yourself when that happens.

Even if you go two or three weeks without doing any stress-relieving activities you promised yourself you would, don’t be hard on yourself. Let rough periods come and go and make sure to return to your routine when you feel well again.

Do Hobbies That Inspire You

How you spend your free time affects your overall mental well-being.

You probably have hobbies that don’t contribute much to your inner happiness. Examples may be binging Netflix or scrolling your Instagram feed for hours on end. The two activities aren’t harmful in and of themselves, but they are addictive. They make you lose hours and days of your life that you could have otherwise spent on something that truly inspires you and makes you happy to be alive.

The hobbies that are inspiring usually:

  • Demand active use of your brain and skills
  • Result in a finished product or improvement of skills
  • Bring about a sense of achievement

Examples can be knitting, reviewing films, photography, or writing short stories, but your hobby doesn’t have to revolve around creative pursuits. It can be fixing furniture or refurbishing old cars. As long as you draw personal satisfaction out of performing the activity and can see you are developing skills through it, you should devote your time to it.

Reflect on activities that make you happy and pursue them through extracurriculars if it’s possible. Joining the right school club for you is a great opportunity to hone your talent and meet people who share your interests.

When you spend time on activities that fulfill and inspire you, you are satisfied with yourself and life in general. Besides reducing your stress levels, doing what you love and knowing what you love to do also helps you choose a career you want to pursue after high school.

Talk to Your Teachers and School Counselors

Your teachers and school counselors are more than able and willing to help you with anxiety and stress than you might believe.

If you need additional advice and support for dealing with stress and anxiety in school, set up an appointment with a teacher you feel comfortable around. Tell them about what you are going through, and they will help set up support systems for you. 

Take Stress Tests and Seek Professional Help

Credit: Annie Spratt

Consistent self-growth means you are willing to reflect on your progress. Do stress tests to determine how frequent or severe your stress symptoms are.

You can find free stress tests on the internet and complete them in under ten minutes. The results should tell you whether your stress levels are mild, moderate, or severe. If you find that you are overly stressed, don’t hesitate to seek expert help. Talking with a mental health professional about your thoughts, emotions, and stress and anxiety symptoms can shed light on what really is the issue and prove to be the help you need.

You may also be interested in checking out:

  1. Anxiety tests for teens
  2. Social anxiety tests for teenagers  

Recognize and Prepare for Stressful Periods

If you make sure to reflect on your mood and your progress, you should be able to recognize when a stressful period is approaching. Even without tracking your mood, increased schoolwork or a potential row with a friend are sure signs you will be going through more stress than usual.

When you feel the first signs of a stressful period, take immediate action. Brace yourself emotionally for anything that may be coming your way. Do activities that relax you, eat healthy foods, and spend time with someone that lifts your mood.

You can’t be stress-free every single day of your life, but the trick is to accept it and actively work toward managing stress.

Stress Reduction for Teenagers—Why It Matters That You Do Stress-Reducing Activities

Credit: Vladislav Muslakov

Taking care of yourself and working actively on reducing your stress levels is as important as doing your school homework—if not more.

Even though stress is a regular human emotion, going through acute stress frequently isn’t healthy. 

Untreated stress and anxiety can lead to many short-term and long-term consequences. Teens can develop depression and other mental health disorders, which could lead them to:

  • Mess up their eating and sleeping habits
  • Stop doing the activities they love
  • Start skipping classes
  • Succumb to substance abuse
  • Cut off any human contact
  • Drop out of high school
  • Decide not to go to college after high school
  • Resort to self-harm
  • Attempt suicide

When you recognize your stress levels are higher than what is considered healthy, you should seek help to prevent harming your mental health further.

Doing stress-relieving activities helps you lead a happy and healthy life, and it also significantly reduces the risk of developing clinical anxiety and other mental health disorders. 

What Stress Management Activities Do You Recommend to Your Peers?

If you recognize the importance of taking care of yourself, we invite you to share your favorite stress management activities with us.

Give us your take on stress and list any stress-relievers we forgot to mention. We’ll make sure your ideas and opinions are heard by publishing your text.

Let’s work together and help teens with anxiety and stress across the country.