Finally Help Them See Where Their Stress Is Healthy
It can help teens to teach them the difference between stress and anxiety. Stress, according to Damour, is the tension or strain we feel when we are pushed outside of our comfort zones. Stress is healthy and helpful when it creates enough tension and strain to foster growth.
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Think of a muscle that is stressed by weight training: It tenses up and even breaks down a little. The weight might be very hard to lift, and the muscle might be sore afterwards. But the stress of a heavy weightso long as it isnt so heavy it causes a significant injurystrengthens the muscle.
Stress can work the same way. School is supposed to be stressful in this way. A mountain of research shows that we learn and grow when we are out of our comfort zonewhen we are exposed to novel challenges. Stress can act like a vaccine for future stress People who are able to weather stressful circumstances frequently go on to demonstrate above-average resilience.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is the fear and dread and panic that can come up for us in the face of a stressor .
And sometimes anxiety is more about excitement than it is a sign of danger. As Maria Shriver writes in And One More Thing Before You Go, often anxiety is a glimpse of your own daring . . . part of your agitation is just excitement about what youre getting ready to accomplish. Whatever youre afraid ofthat is the very thing you should try to do.
Signs Of Stress In Teens
Dr. Huston indicates that parents should take notice if their teen displays the following changes in behavior.
- Acting unusual for them
- Withdrawing from friends and activities
- Refusing to participate in activities they used to enjoy
- Complaining of physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Eating more or less than usual
Keep Stress Under Control
Here are some things that can help keep stress under control:
Take a stand against overscheduling. If you’re feeling stretched, consider cutting out an activity or two, choosing just the ones that are most important to you.
Be realistic. Don’t try to be perfect no one is. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you need help with something like schoolwork or dealing with a loss, ask for it.
Get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. Because the biological “sleep clock” shifts during adolescence, many teens prefer staying up a little later at night and sleeping a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still need to get up early for school, you may not get all the hours of sleep you need.
- Learn to relax. The body’s natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It’s the opposite of stress, and is a feeling of well-being and calm. You can activate the relaxation response simply by relaxing. Learn and practice easy breathing exercises, then use them when you’re caught up in stressful situations.
You can do things to handle the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Stress-management skills work best when they’re practiced ahead of time, not just when the pressure’s on. Knowing how to “de-stress” and calm yourself can help you get through challenging circumstances.
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First Just Listen And Resist The Urge To Give Advice
Ask them to describe the difficult circumstance that is stressing them out. Maybe it is a problematic friendship perhaps they didnt make a team they really wanted to be on.
At this stage, acknowledge that their difficulties are realeven if they sorta seem dramatic or overblown or irrational. The key is not to deny what they are going through and how it is making them feel . Instead, have them simply give you the facts of the hard place they are in, and, in response, show calm curiosity about their experience. The goal is not to take away their pain. The goal is for them to feel seen and heard by you.
Second, help them identify how they are feeling in response to the stressor. Im feeling anxious right now, they might say, or I feel stressed and nervous. This is the name it to tame it technique research shows that when we label our emotions, we are better able to integrate them. If they start telling you a story that is making them more emotional, gently bring them back to what they are feeling. The task here is to identify WHAT they are feeling, not necessarily WHY they are feeling that way. This can be hard we get attached to our narratives about why we are upset. Its usually easier to stick to our story than it is to reveal how we are feeling. But again, the task here is to talk about the actual emotions, not the reasons for the emotions.
The task here is to identify WHAT they are feeling, not necessarily WHY they are feeling that way.
Dealing With Anxiety The How
Here are some ways to manage anxiety by strengthening the structure and function of your brain in ways that protect it against anxiety. Remember though, the brain is like any other muscle in your body it will get stronger with practice. I wish I could tell you that it would get stronger with pizza and tacos but that would be a dirty big lie and very unhelpful. Delicious maybe, but unhelpful. What isnt a lie is that the following strategies have been proven by tons of very high-brow research to be very powerful in helping to reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness. But first to show you why.
A mountain of studies have shown that mindfulness can be a little bit magic in strengthening the brain against anxiety. In a massive analysis of a number of different mindfulness/anxiety studies, mindfulness was found to be associated with robust and substantial reductions in symptoms of anxiety.
Mindfulness changes the brain the way exercise changes our body but without the sweating and panting. Two of the ways mindfulness changes the brain are:
Okay then. What else can mindfulness do?
Plenty. Mindfulness can improve concentration, academic performance, the ability to focus, and it can help with stress and depression. It also increases gray matter, which is the part of the brain that contains the neurons. Neurons are brain cells, so we want plenty of them and plenty of gray matter for them to hang out in.
So mindfulness hey? What is it exactly?
Is there an app for that?
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Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
Whether or not teens get enough Zs can have a big impact on stress. One study examined how teenagers reacted during the day when they didnt get enough sleep at night, as compared to how older adolescents and adults behaved. The results showed that sleep-deprived teens found stressful situations much more threatening than older study participants.
To improve sleep, teens should make sure their room is dark and cool at night, and turn off their phone and other devices a half hour or more before bed. They might try introducing a relaxing bedtime routine that includes reading, writing in a journal, and/or listening to quiet music.
Where Can I Find More Information And Support
If you’re concerned about the physical or mental health of your child or young person it may be a good idea to speak to a GP.
You can also read more about children and young people’s mental health services .
There are also several organisations that provide emotional support and practical advice. You could try:
- Family Lives is a charity specialising in supporting families. You can call their confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222 . You can also visit their forums
- Relate offers relationship advice and counselling. You can also use Live Chat to talk to a counsellor
- Young Minds, the mental health charity, has a confidential parents’ helpline. Call them on 0808 802 5544
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Six Ways To Help The Stressed
This article was published more than 9 years ago. Some information may no longer be current.
To many a frazzled Canadian parent, the days seem shorter and the expectations higher. Our teens have hopped on the racing treadmill, facing a bleak job market and doubling down on university degrees, juggling the insatiable, and intrusive, demands of social media. The result: Nearly 7 per cent of Canadian teens suffer from serious anxiety, with symptoms that cause them to miss school or avoid peers and behind them is a whole cohort of stressed-out adolescents, trying to juggle all their obligations. But if anxiety thrives in the conditions confronting the modern teen, there are some steps that parents can take. The good news is that mom and dad might feel the load lighten too.
Category : Problem Solving
Identify and Then Tackle the Problem
Sometimes, when you identify the source of stress, it can feel overwhelming. You may feel unable to address the problem. To get past that feeling, divide it into smaller pieces and manage one piece at a time. For example, you can make lists and timelines, and then identify a strategy from your plan to address each part of the problem.
Avoid What Stresses You Out Whenever Possible
Life is hard enough without having to deal with things that can be avoided. Bypass, rather than confront, problems when it is safe and wise to do so. Avoiding people, places, and things that trigger emotions can be an act of tremendous strength.
Instead of devoting energy to worrying about things you cant change, channel your energy differently. Focus on problems that can be fixed!
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Brainstorm Ways To Relieve Acute Stress
In particularly stressful moments, your teen might feel so overwhelmed that they cant concentrate enough to figure out how to relieve some of the stress. In these moments of acute stress, your teen might feel anxious or even panicky.
Thats probably not the best mindset for prioritizing and scheduling, identifying and letting go of worries about things beyond their control or even sitting down and discussing whats causing stress in their lives. What your stressed teen needs in those moments is a way to calm themselves down quickly.
There are many ways that your teen could relieve stress in particularly overwhelming moments, but your teen may need to experiment a little to find out what works best for them. Meditation can be a useful tool for many people to help them calm down and relax.
Some teens may find it helpful to do something physical to de-stress, like going for a run or a swim. Others might benefit more from taking a nap. Talk to your stressed teen about different methods they could use to shake off acute stress so that they can then approach the problem more calmly, and encourage them to find the method that works best for them.
Some stress can be a good thing it can simply be a sign that youre ready for action and motivated. But too much stress can be harmful and counterproductive. If you can teach your stressed teen the difference and teach them how to handle excessive stress effectively, that skill will benefit them for many years to come.
Try These 13 Coping Skills For Teens To Deal With Stress Anxiety And More
Here are some healthy coping skills, arranged into different categories, to help you deal with various struggles that many of us will encounter during our lives, especially during our teenager years. Learning coping techniques to deal with these things now is beneficial because youll carry these positive coping skills with you for the rest of your life.
Please note that even though these coping skills for teens are sorted into different categories, you can use any of these coping techniques for any issue that youre struggling with.
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Healthy Coping Mechanisms For Teens
Any coping mechanism that makes you feel better without having to resort to bad or harmful coping mechanisms could be considered a healthy coping mechanism but here are some that are directly related to better health.
- Going for a peaceful walk: Throw on some headphones or just enjoy the sounds of your surroundings, either way, taking a walk is a very healthy coping mechanism because it gives you a chance to disconnect from things, take some time to yourself, and its good for your mind and your body.
- Spending time at the park: Is there a park near you, or even an area with a few trees and a table or bench? Some time in nature, whether youre on a woodsy trail, sitting near a body of water, or anywhere else that feels calming,
- Intense exercise: A walk or a stroll in the park is always nice, but many people feel great after an intense workout. Exercise can be a good way to get your mind off things, especially when youre in the middle of an intense workout where all you can really think about is finding the willpower to keep going. You can forget about lifes problems, forget about the things that are stressing you, forget about whatever makes you feel angry or anxious, and just dedicate yourself to the exercise.
Category : Managing Emotions
Take Instant Vacations
Healthy escapes prevent the mind and body from needing to turn to dangerous, quick fixes. Take breaks from stress by taking advantage of the imagination. Focus the mind on something other than the problem at hand. Choose activities and practices that dont permit other thoughts to intrude.
It is important to learn to express emotions so they dont build up inside. A bit of stress is energizing and can enhance performance. Too much stress can be paralyzing. Learn the benefits of expressing feelings and emotions.
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Model Positive Coping Strategies
Often, children and teenagers cope with stress in ways that are similar to how theyve seen their parents cope with stress. Think about how you can take stressful opportunities to model positive coping strategies to your teen without lecturing about how he should cope.
One strategy is to try to engage in some positive self-talkin front of your teenthe next time you encounter a stressful situation. The situation could be as simple as being stuck in traffic or feeling overwhelmed with an event at home.
In these moments, say to yourself in front of your teen, I am feeling really stressed out now. But there is nothing I can do to change this situation. I just have to try to stay calm until this moment passes. Or, if you are in a situation in which you do have control, engage in active problem solving in front of your teen. The purpose of these approaches is to encourage open dialogue and create a relationship in which your teen feels safe expressing and exploring his feelings with you.
Here Are Six Ways To Help Teenagers Deal With Stress
Lately Ive found myself needing to step back from newsfeeds and social media sites. Even though its part of my job as a writer for Psychology today to keep up with these things, reading article after article about the worlds problems can become overwhelming and affect my mental health.
If the stresses of daily life can affect an adult with a higher-than-average understanding of mental health, how is it affecting young people? The APAs Stress in America survey found teens and children as young as ten reported an even higher level of stress than adults. Perhaps even more concerning than the dangerous levels of stress reported, is that teenagers were more likely than adults to underestimate the impact this stress is having on their physical and mental health.
Adolescents are asked to navigate a world of ever-increasing expectations, while simultaneously managing their identity exploration, with limited autonomy. Seventy-five percent of teens report being more stressed than adults about gun violence, mass shootings, and school shootings. They also reported feeling more stress than adults about issues like rising suicide rates, immigration separation and deportation issues, climate change, and sexual harassment and assault. They reported stress about work and money, as well as more age-specific issues like gender identity, bullying, and peer conflict.
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Your Feelings About Your Teen’s Behaviour
Teenagers can challenge even the calmest of parents. When you have further pressures in your life, such as other children, work, relationships, family commitments or illness, it can feel as though your teenager is going to push you over the edge.
Try to step back from the situation, and remember your child or young person may have physiological reasons for behaving in ways that can be difficult to live with. They’re probably not enjoying it either.
You’re the adult and you will feel that it’s your responsibility to guide them through the difficult times, but that is not always easy. Do not expect to enjoy your time with them all of the time, and remember to look after yourself.
Why Do Teens Act The Way They Do
Parenting a teenager is never easy. You may feel exhausted from lying awake at night worrying about where your child is, who theyre with, and what theyre doing. You may despair over failed attempts to communicate, the endless fights, and the open defiancenot to mention the moodiness, the intense emotions, and the impulsive and reckless conduct.
Sometimes it may be hard to believe, but no, your teenager is not an alien being from a distant planet. But they are wired differently. A teenagers brain is still actively developing, therefore processes information differently than a mature adults brain. The frontal cortexthe part of the brain used to manage emotions, make decisions, reason, and control inhibitionsis restructured during the teenage years, forming new synapses at an incredible rate, while the whole brain does not reach full maturity until about the mid-20s.
Its also important to remember that while teenagers are individuals with unique personalities and their own likes and dislikes, some traits are universal. No matter how much your teen seems to withdraw from you emotionally, no matter how independent your teen appears, or how troubled your teen becomes, they still need your attention and to feel loved by you.
Teens read emotions differently
Source: ACT for Youth
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