Managing stress after a transplant

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Teen girl on boat

Tips for managing stress

Next time you feel stress, try following the steps below to manage it. As you work through the steps, you might find it useful to write some notes in your notebook or a journal.

  1. List the things that make you feel stressed.
  2. Identify the signs of stress in your mind and body.
  3. Think about how you react to stress. Sometimes our reactions (such as drinking alcohol, overeating or getting upset) can make a problem worse.
  4. Choose one stressful event and write down how you think you reacted to it. Did your reaction help or did it make things worse?
  5. Think of a number of possible solutions to the problem.
  6. Pick one or two possible solutions from your list to help you set some personal goals.
  7. Try out the solutions next time you are in a similar situation. This should ultimately reduce your stress!

For example, if you worry about falling behind in school, try talking to your teachers and parents about your concerns. They may be able to help you come up with a plan to help you before you do fall behind!

Solutions that have worked for other teens

  • Share your feelings with someone you trust.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Cut back on junk food and limit caffeine. Although it might take some time to adjust, you really will feel better in the long-run.
  • Try to get some exercise every day. Regular exercise improves your energy, clears your mind and improves your mood. It will also help give you a sense of accomplishment as you become fitter.
  • Get a good night’s sleep! Get into a healthy ‘sleep routine’ by shutting down any computers, tablets or other electronic devices at least an hour before you go to bed. Try taking a warm bath to relax you. If you have a TV in your room, try removing it for a while. Feeling rested after a good night’s sleep will help you meet the demands you face during the day.
  • Do a fun activity and laugh out loud! Laughter stimulates the brain and releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These relax and re-energize us!
  • Try writing your thoughts in a journal – this is a great way to express your feelings, solve problems and set some goals!
  • Practise breathing deeply. You can find out more about deep breathing, sometimes called belly breathing, later in this module.
  • Relax! Try yoga, meditation, stretching or other techniques to relax or distract you. These can all help reduce stress in your body and mind.
Teen boy writing notes

Action planning

Having goals and a plan to meet them can help you manage your stress because they can give you a sense of control over what you’re doing with your time. Action planning is also a useful way to change things you are unhappy about.

Here are some simple steps to consider as you figure out what direction you want your life to move in.

  1. ​Clarify the issue or the problem.
  2. Identify possible courses of action.
  3. Come up with a plan and put it into action.
  4. Evaluate and make changes if necessary.

Let’s say, for instance, that your parents are always bugging you about taking your medicine and it’s really annoying. You’ve asked them to quit bothering you, but they keep reminding or asking you about your medicines several times a day.

Based on the four steps above, you might do the following.

  1. Clarify the problem: My parents keep reminding me to take my medications because they don’t seem to trust that I’ll remember to take them.
  2. Possible courses of action: Do nothing; get really mad; nag them repeatedly over something simple that they are supposed to do; set up a reminder on my phone and tell my parents every time I take my medication before they can bug me about it; ask my aunt to talk with my parents to make them leave me alone... The point here is to come up with lots of options. Even if some seem bad, they might get you thinking about other options that could work well.
  3. Come up with a plan and act on it: I’ll set my phone to remind me to take my medications and I’ll get my aunt to talk with my parents about how I feel and what I’m doing.
  4. Evaluate: It’s been two weeks and my parents are not bothering me as much. They know I am taking my medication without needing to be reminded by them.

Now it’s your turn! If you have any actions you want to take, try using this action planning template. We give an example on the first page, but you can fill in the rest with your own plan. Don’t forget to save the PDF to your computer or mobile device so you won’t lose anything.

Last updated: November 30th 2017