This article was written by a local high school student and member of our BACC Y ministry.
Every day when I walk through the hallways at school, anxiety walks with me. Whether it’s getting assigned hours of history homework, holding the responsibility of planning a future event, or knowing that there’s conflict in my friendships and family that I need to confront, anxiety lurks behind me and leads me to eventually break down if I don’t deal with it.
I read somewhere that stress is a battlefield created in your mind. I definitely feel that way about my stress — it’s a war when anxious thoughts attack me and I fight to be free of them. I always want to be in control of my anxiety, and I feel that if I’m not, it will consume me.
Anxiety is something we need to learn how to manage because it never really goes away. Below are three pointers on how to cope with day-to-day teen stress.
1. Ask for advice
Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.
Proverbs 20:18 NIV
Every day we wage war against anxiety. You can’t escape it. This scripture points out that when you wage war, you need advice! A lot of times I come home stressed out by my homework and by the time my dad comes home, I’m worn out by working for so long and having tiny fretful thoughts about a future test or event. Instead of asking my dad for help, I usually start ranting to him about how anxious I am, and it’ll eventually get to the point where he stops me and tells me that my anxiety is making him anxious! Stress doesn’t just hurt us from the inside, it affects those around us too.
So I need to learn how to get help. Instead of stressing my dad out, it works better just to open up with him about the anxiety I’m feeling and ask him for help on planning my schedule or whatever I’m dealing with. His advice really does help me out because he’s gone through high school and a lot of life already.
Who can you talk to for advice about something you’re anxious about? Your mom or dad, older brother/sister, or a father figure? Find someone who you can go to and ask for help whenever you get anxious.
2. Go to God
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Sometimes I feel like I can’t handle my stress. Well the truth is, I can’t take it on by myself. And not only do I need to seek advice from people, I also need God. This scripture says to cast all your anxiety on him because he truly and genuinely cares for you. We can’t handle our own anxiety, but God can. And he wants to.
Almost a year ago, I got into a bad situation with a friend on the phone. He was trying to help me out with something, but I got badly hurt by what he was saying and after telling him that I got hurt he responded negatively. I felt like I was about to burst into tears, so naturally, I hung up. As soon as I got off the phone with him, my parents told me to call my friend back and tell him what I was really feeling, but I still felt uneasy, overwhelmed, and stressed out. And I remember at that one specific moment, I decided to have my first real prayer to God. I told God all the anxiety I was feeling. After casting all my worries and hurt emotions onto him, I felt strengthened. God cared about me and took on my anxieties, and because of that I was able to talk to my friend in person and work out what happened.
Make the decision to trust in God whenever you get anxious and feel like you can’t handle it anymore. He really cares for you and wants to take your stress head-on.
3. Trust in a team
David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
1 Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV)
This passage is really cool because a ton of people who weren’t happy with their lives or were in really deep distress gathered together under the leadership of David, and they became a team and army. Remember that although anxiety is messy, you never have to deal with it alone.
I don’t think I’m a person who depends on others easily, mostly because I like to do things myself, rely on myself, and get the job done myself. But as I’ve learned many times in the past, I can only do things on my own for so long. Eventually I’m going to be in need. And building a team of friends and relationships is really important because it gives both you and the people around you yet another way to fight off stress.
Setting up a team can be as simple as building different relationships in which you help each other with stress you both feel in different environments. For example, I have one friend at school to talk to if I ever get anxious in the moment, such as in-between classes, then I have my parents at home to ask for advice about my schedule, and also some other friends who I can talk to on the phone about some long-term stress I may be feeling.
What also helps is that it’s not just them helping me, but I’m able to help them talk about and deal with their stress, too, because we relate and all go through the same struggles.
Overall, I think anxiety is a really ugly emotion, and I honestly hate feeling it. But anxiety is more than just a reaction or a choice to not trust. It’s also a reminder (to those of us who are a bit more independent) that we need help, that we need to slow down, and we need to pray. Stress also reminds us to be a friend because if we are feeling anxious, chances are our friends are too. Trust in a team, ask for advice, and go to God and you’ll have victories in handling the stress of high school.