By Cherith Pruitt

Homework, school, work, friends, parents, sports, boyfriend, girlfriend, college, tests, GPA, stress, anxiety, am I good enough, can I do this, what’s wrong with me, it’s too much! I just want to scream….AAUUGGHH!!

Being a teenager is REALLY hard. Adults are always telling you how easy you have it, to appreciate this time in your life. That’s true in a way. BUT, it is also REALLY hard. While we can’t take away the angst or alleviate all the pressure, we do have ways we can help ourselves.

Friends are one of the most important ways we can cope as a teen. Having a good support system, friends you can talk to and be honest with is very important. Staying organized and knowing your limitations is also great. Setting boundaries and being safe on social will also help alleviate some of the pressure to be perfect. But one of the best ways to address the stress is to stay physically active.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The early bird gets the worm?” Don’t worry, in this case we’re not talking about getting up early. But getting in shape, being active now and setting healthy habits at a young age will serve you well late in life. It is so much harder to get in shape as you get older. Being active in your teen years will decrease your chances of obesity as you age.

Am I good enough? How often do you find yourself asking that question? Exercise improves self-esteem. NOT because we look good, but because we FEEL good, strong and EMPOWERED.

When we feel strong and empowered, we stress less. All those circling thoughts of negativity and doubt start to dwindle as we take control of our bodies and lives. Maybe you’ll find out you really enjoy a certain sport. High school is the best place to play. And the cherry on top is that we have friends built right into the team.

I’m sure you’re hearing….blah blah blah. I get it. Workout?!? I don’t have time! Yes you do!! Start small. Find ways to increase your activity. Take a 5 minute walk after dinner. Do 10 jumping jacks in your room between homework.

Change one small thing at a time until you’re really good at it and then move to the next one. Look at the community centers and YMCA’s in your area. They have so many awesome programs. But most importantly, HAVE FUN! Being active shouldn’t be something you HAVE to do, it should be something you WANT to do. Try new things and see what you like and then invest in yourself. Trust me, you’re worth it.