Stress is unavoidable and our young teens, like adults, may experience stressful situations every day. Most teens experience more stress than they show and by the time we notice it we’re not sure how to handle it. When they perceive a situation as dangerous, difficult, or painful and they do not have the resources to cope we have to be there to guide them. Some sources of stress for teens might include:
- high school demands
- changing schools
- low self-esteem
- changes in their bodies
- problems with friends at school
- unsafe living environment or neighborhood
- separation or divorce of parents
- chronic illness or illness in the family
- death of a loved one
- taking on too many activities
- having too high expectations
- family financial problems
If your teen becomes overloaded with stress, inadequately managing that stress can lead to anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, or physical illness and can lead to drug and alcohol use as coping mechanisms. According to The American Psychological Association (APA), forty-two percent of teens don’t know what to do to manage stress or don’t do anything to manage stress at all. Here are some suggestions to help your teen cope with stress.
- Get quality sleep
You think you need your eight hours of sleep, your kids need it more. Ideally they need 9-10 hours of sleep during the week. That means less time watching TV, playing games and using their phones. Quality sleep resets the brain and allows their body to recover from all the physical activities from the day.
Physical exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate stress. It doesn’t have to be a chore. find something they love to do; hiking, biking, yoga, or kickboxing. Social activities are also great and form great bonding structures. Things like family walks, team sports or Frisbee at the park with friends are activities more likely to be fun that they’ll continue to do.
- Avoid excess caffeine
Too much caffeine can cause an increased feeling of anxiety and agitation, can prevent them from sleeping, nausea, headaches and heart palpitations.
- Talk to someone
You can never underestimate the relief of talking to someone in a safe place. Encouraging your teen to talk to a trusted teacher, family member or even the school psychologist can make all the difference.
- Learn relaxation exercises
Abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques allow your muscles to relax, lowers your blood pressure and will improve your mental concentration. During stressful times the body responds in a similar way every time; rapid heartbeat, tightening muscles, dilated pupils, perspiration and short, quick breaths. Fortunately by practicing deep breathing exercises, your teen will be able to reclaim their physical and mental health.
American Psychological Association (2014). Teens and Stress: How to keep stress in check. Retrieved February 2014 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-teens.aspx