We adults know all too well about this little thing called stress. It’s our body’s fight or flight survival tactic that shows itself as a burst of hormones that increase our breathing and blood pressure but eventually goes down after we beat the fight. Stress isn’t naturally a bad thing; in small doses, stress can be health, motivating us to meet deadlines and stay proactive throughout the course of the day or week. Being able to manage this stress allows us to move on through tough situations and go about our day as usual. For adults, stress has been around for what seems like forever, and is usually pretty manageable. For teens on the other hand, stress is a whole other monster.
As teens start maturing and are faced with more adult-like situations, stress starts becoming a factor into the equation of everyday living. So long are carefree days watching cartoons with a cookie and a glass of milk and hello first relationships, first jobs, and real world responsibilities. As teens move through maturity and start growing into young adults, they will inevitably be introduced to stressful situations, which can be frustrating and confusing. Without an established toolkit of how to work through stress, it may be having effects on their lives until they figure out what stress management tools work best for them.
Keep an eye out for different ways your teen may be reacting to stress including emotional responses such as anxiety, depression, withdrawal and agitation and physical responses such as lashing out, doing poor in school and in severe cases, turning to drugs and alcohol for consolation. Have you noticed any of these reactions lately? It may be time to talk with your son or daughter to work out a stress management plan to effectively combat those difficult situations. Need some suggestions? The following stress relievers are great for anyone, not just teens.
Deep breathing and meditation
Taking a deep breath in, holding for 10 seconds, and exhaling, can do wonders for resetting your mind. If possible, remove yourself from your current situation and seek out somewhere quiet without distraction. Whether it’s in the school hallway or bathroom, your backyard, or the break room, try to get some physical distance from your stressors, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing.
Pro-social activities and sports
Physical activity and surrounding yourself with others boosts those feel-good endorphins that help you manage negative feelings (like stress!) more effectively. By surrounding yourself with others, it’s easier to take a mental break and focus on the present. Not to mention friends and teammates form some of the strongest support systems.
Focus on hobbies and interests
Want to be left alone? We empower you, but consider using this time to focus on things that interest you; are you a bookworm? Make a cup of tea and crack open a new novel. More into gaming? Put on your headset and get to it. Do you find joy in whipping up a fresh new dish? Start the oven and set the timer. Whatever it is that makes you you, channel your stress into your passions to get some well-needed clarity.
Identify triggers and create a strategy
What is it that sends you into stress overload? Is it every time you get hit with a pop-quiz in chemistry, when you sit down to do your math homework every night or whether your grades are high enough for your dream school? Take some time to dive deep into what situations get you the most bugged-out and
make a plan on how to ground yourself whether it’s doing some jumping jacks, listening to your favorite Spotify playlist, or seeking out help from a tutor. Whatever it may be, having a strategy on how to help calm your nerves when they’re in overdrive can only help.
Sleep is not for the weak. I repeat. Sleep is NOT for the weak! Sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing stress. Your body does most of its recovering when you’re sleeping which directly reflects on your stress levels. Missing one night of good rest isn’t the end of the world, but when sleep is continually interrupted, cut short, and not prioritized, it affects everything from your hunger levels, to your emotional regulation, to your attentiveness, and you got it, your stress levels. Without enough sleep, you don’t equip your body with the rest necessary to recover from a stressful day or week, which results in all that stress and tension spilling over into the following day. Do your best to get 8 hours of sleep every night so you wake up rested and ready to tackle whatever the day may bring.
We hope these tools we’ve provided can help you and your teen better deal with stress. At the end of the day, these tools are to help facilitate communication with your teens. As adults, we have been through most of the same stressful situations, and the more we can sympathize with our teens and communicate openly, the better chance we have to connect with them and work through any situation at hand.