Let’s face it, being a teenager is tough. Having to navigate through puberty, a first love interest, and college is no small feat. So much so that many teenagers who are unable to cope with the stress of their lives turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to deal.
Claire Kelly, in her latest Decoder post, takes a look at how, without adequate coping skills such as meditation and relaxation techniques, kids who suffer from overwhelming stress can show signs of anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, physical illness and/or drug and alcohol abuse. That said, teenagers whose parents monitor their children’s stress and its affect upon their lives as well as help their kids to practice behaviors and techniques meant to decrease stress will fair much better during these difficult years.
Here are some good hints to help your teenager decrease stress:
Teens can decrease stress with the following behaviors and techniques:
• Exercise and eat regularly
• Avoid excess caffeine intake which can increase feelings of anxiety and agitation
• Avoid illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco
• Learn relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques)
• Develop assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings in polite firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways: (”I feel angry when you yell at me” “Please stop yelling.”)
• Rehearse and practice situations which cause stress. One example is taking a speech class if talking in front of a class makes you anxious
• Learn practical coping skills. For example, break a large task into smaller, more attainable tasks
• Decrease negative self talk: challenge negative thoughts about yourself with alternative neutral or positive thoughts. “My life will never get better” can be transformed into “I may feel hopeless now, but my life will probably get better if I work at it and get some help”
• Learn to feel good about doing a competent or “good enough” job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others
• Take a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening to music, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, or spending time with a pet can reduce stress
• Build a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way
Read more about how relaxation techniques and meditation can help your teenager better cope with stress here.