For the average teen, stressors lurk around every corner. School exams, driving lessons, a first job, college entry, and peer pressure can all add up to an overwhelming amount to deal with. As parents, you want what’s best for your teen, but you don’t want them to feel so stressed that it causes a mental breakdown. Here are a few strategies you can use to help your teen reduce stress.
Recognize the Signs of Stress
While it’s always a good idea to learn how to deal with stress, recognizing the signs can also help. Here are a few indications that your teen may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed:
- Angry and irritable
- Behavioral changes (acting out, not wanting to go out or socialize)
- Sleeping difficulties
- Dropping the ball on homework and other responsibilities
- Changes in eating habits
- More prone to illness, headaches, stomach aches
Whether your teen shows any of the above symptoms or not, the tips below are good strategies they can put into practice to help with stress management.
Nourish the Mind and Body
A solid 9 or 10 hours of sleep is an excellent way to help the body cope with stress. Reduce your teen’s exposure to screens and smartphones at night. Turning off screens
at night ensures the brain can release melatonin, a sleep hormone produced in response to darkness. The blue light from televisions and LCDs blocks melatonin production and prevents you from getting sleepy.
Teenagers lead busy lifestyles and often need to work hard to stay on top of things. Like adults, they need to schedule personal time to pursue hobbies they enjoy or catch up with friends.
Learn Stress Management Techniques
Teens may be hesitant to try the more ‘adult’ methods for managing stress like meditation or yoga, but they are never too young to start. Mindfulness – which is learning to be in the moment without letting events affect you – has also proven to be an excellent technique for reducing stress.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Physical activity is a universal stress reliever to burn up adrenaline and reduce the stress hormone cortisol volume in the bloodstream. At least 30 – 60 minutes a day of vigorous exercise is recommended for children under 17.
Spend Time in Nature
The green of a park or a nature walk through a reserve can do wonders for stress levels. Research has shown that the simple act of looking at a picture of nature produces measurable changes to a person’s stress levels. Connecting with nature is even more effective. Gardening can also deliver similar stress-reducing results.
Be a Good Role Model
Parents can also help their teens cope with stress by learning to be good role models.
· Practice your reactions to a stressful situation, which will create a kind of mental muscle memory.
· Make better use of your time by splitting up large tasks into manageable chunks.
· Set achievable goals.
· Talk about issues with family and friends.
· Try something new, take a day off, visit the beach, or indulge yourself with a new hobby.
· Don’t leave preparations to the last minute.
· Feel and express pride in your achievements.
· Manage your schedule and focus on the most critical tasks. Discard any nonessential activities that are causing stress. Always be firm but polite.