By Katie Brace, WBZ-TVBy Katie Brace

BOSTON (CBS) – Stress often accompanies a new school year. On Monday, Janelle Alicea will begin her senior year at Fitchburg High.

“There’s been a lot of bullying. There’s been a lot of all that type of stuff, so it’s really hard. I just really want to make sure that I stay focused, just so I can get into a good college, make sure everything works out exactly how I want it to,” said Alicea.

Marilyn Wilcher is a senior director at the Benson-Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital. They focus on mind-body medicine.

Wilcher said she was horrified when she read recent numbers about who is stressed-out. “Teens are the most stressed demographic in the country. I mean that is really shocking and upsetting,” said Wilcher.

She helps teach teens and their parents how to relax by breaking the regular stressful train of thought.

“A breath focus, a mediation, a word focus, for a lot people it’s yoga. It can be repetitive exercise. It can be running,” said Wilcher.

In the lab, she’s found those relaxation techniques lower blood pressure and heart rate.

She shared an example of repeating a line while focusing on breathing. “I am at peace. So when you’re repeating that, you can’t be worrying,” said Wilcher.

Alicea and her mom, Kathleen Salo, traveled to the Benson-Henry in Boston for two months.

“I think it’s changed the way I think,” said Alicea.

The pair now meditate. Alicea found drawing helps her de-stress.

“It just completely takes my mind off of just everything that’s stressing me out,” said Alicea.

Salo said it’s made a difference and she can tell by her daughter’s smile.

Marilyn Wilcher, Senior Director of BHI’s Resilient Youth Program, wrote a book on this topic called “Grab a Tiger by the Toe.”

Katie Brace

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