Life can be really stressful. Whether you’re dealing with exam stress, mental health difficulties or problems in your family, things can get a bit overwhelming at times. It’s really important to talk to someone if you’re feeling stressed out. You don’t have to struggle alone.

You might not know the feelings you are experiencing are stress, either. Stress can affect the body (and the mind) in different ways. Physicall, you might experience headaches, trouble sleeping or stomach trouble (or a range of other body-related signs). You might notice your behaviours and feelings change too. Stress affects people differently, so it might be worth thinking about how you’ve been feeling and whether it could be stress.

Finding time to relax and decompress is really important (although it can be hard to do). In this article, we’ll talk about some ideas to help you manage your stress.

Don’t struggle alone

Remember what we mentioned earlier? You don’t need to struggle alone. Reach out to the person who looks after you or someone you trust to talk about what you’re going through. Sometimes, it can be enough to have someone listen. Other times, you might need to access further support.  There’s no shame in admitting you need a little extra help; it can make the world of difference.

In the meantime, there are some strategies you could use that might help you destress. Taking time for self-care is at the top of the list, whatever that looks like for you. Being more aware of yourself and your environment can help too. This ‘awareness’ is called mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying more attention to your present moment. This includes your thoughts, feelings, your body and the world around you.

Doing mindfulness activities can help you understand yourself and the world around you better and might help to improve your mood. You can find out more about mindfulness on the NHS website.

If you’re not sure where to start with mindfulness, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular mindfulness apps, along with some designed especially for teens. Some of these apps include breathing exercises and relaxation activities too, which might help you feel less stressed as well.

  1. Headspace

Headspace is one of the most popular apps for mindfulness and relaxation. There are lots of different relaxation activities to explore, as well as reminders and tracking features to help you manage your mindfulness. The app is free to try, but you might need a paid-for subscription to access all the features.

  1. Smiling Mind

Created specifically for teenagers, Smiling Mind is a great choice if you want something personalised to your life circumstances. There are plenty of mindfulness activities for specific situations, like going to university, going back to school, taking public transport and more. The app is free to use.

  1. Calm

Calm is another popular mindfulness app. It comes with a wealth of different options, including sleep relaxation, audio-visual naturescapes and soothing music. You can pick your favourite celebrity to read soothing stories (from Harry Styles to Priyanka Chopra-Jonas) or watch a range of different masterclasses on specific topics. The app is free to try, but requires an ongoing subscription.

  1. Life

My.Life is another app especially for teens and young adults. It’s a bit more personalised than other mindfulness apps on the market, giving you the option to tailor the content to the emotions or feelings you’re worried about. You’ll find a range of different activities in this app, from breathing exercises to yoga poses. Most of this app is free, although there are some paid-for options.

  1. Three Good Things

This app is a little different to the others on this list. Instead of mindfulness exercises, breathing activities or soothing stories, the Three Good Things app encourages you to note down positive things that have happened each day. It’s a bit like a digital journal, giving you space to think about what has gone well. There are no extra features in this app, but it is completely free to use.

Is mindfulness right for me?

Remember, mindfulness isn’t a quick fix or a cure. It might not be right for everyone, either. Research is still underway into how effective a mindfulness approach can be (and for who it’s suitable for). If you find you don’t get on with mindfulness activities or it feels like it’s making the situation worse, then stop.

It’s always best to speak to someone you trust if you’re having mental health difficulties or you’re feeling overwhelmed. They can help you access further support if that’s something you want.