Secret Stress Busters of the Stars

Illustration By Sean McCabe

From sold-out concerts to sporting events watched by millions, high-profile celebs have pressure-filled schedules that they need to navigate with calm and grace. So how do they do it? Here are their secret strategies for staying chill—and how you can use the same tricks. 

 

Yoga, CrossFit, personal trainers— for years, the world’s been obsessed with how celebs get in shape. But now there's a whole new focus: how celebs stay sane. With their grueling schedules and high-pressure performances, a mental well-being regimen is crucial. “We know now that devoting a few minutes a day to mental health is just as important as eating right,” says Carolyn Snell, a staff psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. 

But it’s not just stars who need a little mental TLC. According to one study, 31 percent of teens say they feel overwhelmed because of stress. Anything from a bad grade to a mean comment can set off your body’s primal fight-or-flight response—meaning it funnels all of its resources into dealing with the “danger” (aka problem) at hand, leaving you feeling fidgety and unable to concentrate. 

The good news is, a few clever tactics can help you outsmart your stress and feel more confident. Read on to find out how celebs use certain mental exercises to be calmer and more resilient—and how you can too. 

 

THE SILENT TIME-OUT

The Stars:  Rapper KENDRICK LAMAR needs 30 minutes to himself daily, and KATY PERRY relies on focused daily downtime to clear her mind for songwriting and performances. 

Why it works: Your brain, like your phone, gets zapped. Mindful meditation (taking time to focus on the present moment) adds memory and battery life to your mind. While you sit still and zone out, brain activity slows or ramps up in certain areas, improving mental clarity. In fact, one six-month study found that ninth-graders who read, meditated, or sat quietly for 15 minutes twice a day were less anxious, performed better academically, and felt happier and more confident. 

Use it! Silently rest your head for two minutes a day, doing your best to focus solely on each breath going in and out. If you get fidgety, it’s OK. Just try to bring your focus back to the process of breathing. Every week, add a minute. You’ll be up to 15 daily in no time!


THE SEE-IT-BE-IT ROUTINE

The Star: KYLE EMANUEL, a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, preps for competition by visualizing the same killer plays over and over again. 

Why it works: Practice makes perfect, right? Well, visualization techniques are like mental practice. When you imagine your ideal outcome—say, scoring a goal or breezing through an essay test—you are training your brain to pull it off. “Mental practice fires off the exact same motor neurons in the brain as real-life practice,” says Linda Olszewski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. “The more you practice at something, the better you get.” 

Use it! The night before a big game or test, lie down and close your eyes, imagining a flawless performance. Bonus: It can help you doze off—no more anxious tossing and turning! 


 

THE HELPFUL #HUMBLEBRAG 

The Star: Gymnast SIMONE BILES calmed her nerves at the 2016 Rio Olympics by giving herself motivational pep talks leading up to her gold-medal-winning routines. 

Why it works: Narrating your own story (what many experts call positive self-talk) helps you believe and achieve whatever you want over time. Cognitive scientists say it’s because the stories we tell ourselves set the stage for our actions. “Pre- and mid-game pep talks—like, ‘I've got this’—crowd out negative thought spirals that set off the stress response, keeping you focused so you can achieve your goal,” says Olszewski. “Doing this over and over again creates a cycle of success.” So if you want to win, think like a winner! 

Use it! If you’re nervous about a big exam, a championship race, or a high-stakes performance, flip the script in your head. Instead of fixating on what might go wrong, repeat to yourself exactly why you’ll nail it. (“I’m smart, I’m prepared, I’ve got this!”) Having a simple mantra will distract you from your worries and increase your confidence big-time. 

 

 

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Click the image below to access our newest slideshow feature, Stress Busters! This slideshow presents three simple techniques teens can use to reduce stress!

 

Other vocabulary words: adrenaline

 

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