Stress is a natural part of life. It’s our body’s fight or flight survival tactic that manifests itself as a burst of hormones, increasing our breathing rate and blood pressure. Stress isn’t always a bad thing; in small doses, stress can be healthy, motivating us to meet deadlines and stay proactive throughout the day or week. Managing this stress allows us to move on through challenging situations and go about our day as usual. For adults, stress is nothing new and is usually pretty manageable. On the other hand, with less real-world experience, stress management with teens can be more difficult.
As teens mature and face more adult-like situations, stress starts becoming a factor in the equation of everyday living. Long carefree days watching cartoons are left behind for first relationships, jobs, and real-world responsibilities. As teens start growing into young adults, stressful situations will inevitably be introduced to them, which can be both frustrating and confusing. Without an established toolkit of how to work through stress, it may affect 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. Some common reactions may include emotional responses such as anxiety, depression, withdrawal, and physical responses such as lashing out, doing poorly in school, and turning to drugs and alcohol in more severe cases. If you’ve noticed a change in your teen’s behavior, or if they are mimicking some of these coping mechanisms, it may be time to talk with your child. Then, work out a stress management plan that can effectively combat those difficult situations. Need some suggestions? The following stress relievers are great for anyone, not just teens.
Stress Management Tips:
Deep Breathing and Meditation
Taking a deep breath in, holding it for 10 seconds, and then exhaling can do wonders for resetting your mind. If possible, remove yourself from the current situation and seek out a quiet room with no distractions. Whether 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. This technique can also work well with teens who may have anger issues.
Pro-Social Activities and Sports
Physical activity is a great way to boost endorphins, reduce stress, and stay fit. The benefits of sports and physical activity will provide your child with a plethora of terrific coping methods. In addition, sports fosters friendships, giving your child more support systems. Check out our recent blog post on Bridging the Gap Between Mental Health and Sports in Adolescence for more information on how sports benefit mental health.
Focus on Hobbies and Interests
One great way to manage stress and divert nervous energy is to funnel it into a hobby or interest. Sometimes your child may just need a distraction. For example, encourage your teen to read or pick up a musical instrument. Too much gaming can be harmful to a child; however, gaming in moderation can be an excellent way for your child to manage stress and talk to friends. We do, however, recommend encouraging more beneficial hobbies that your child can continue into adulthood.
Identify Triggers and Create a Strategy
Try to sit down and identify some stress trigger points your child may have. For your child, it may be a pop quiz, the stress of completing homework, or the looming possibility of college. Identifying triggers is not always easy. You may need some help in rooting out the causes of your child’s stress. At Marriage and Family Services, we recommend bringing your child in for child counseling.
Marriage and Family Services specializes in child counseling, individual therapy, couples counseling, and telemedicine. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take control of your family’s mental health.
Bridging the Gap Between Mental Health and Sports in Adolescence
Does Being Anxious Affect the Body? Physical Signs of Anxiety