Stress Management for Teens
Stress Management for Teens – Helpful Tips for 21st Century Parents
In the days of the early man, the decision whether to flee or be attacked by an animal was a daily occurrence for the foraging caveman as he hunted for food. The natural phenomenon of running from an apparent or actual threat to human survival is called the fight-or-flight response. This physiological reaction is the body’s way to protect us when things get rough. Although the teens of the 21st Century typically don’t have to hunt for their dinner or run from dinosaurs, they can be stressed out. Like adults, teenagers can benefit from learning tools to manage the stressors of life, such as school difficulties, social issues, body image issues, peer pressure, home life, illness or divorce, overscheduling and family problems.
When a teen experiences a situation that they feel they have zero control over, stress can manifest in various ways. Some teens react to stress by isolating from family and friends; some become physical ill, others have anxiety, anger or become aggressive, while some even turn to drugs and alcohol to find distraction from the problem. Here are some tips you can use to guide your child through the perils of adolescence and mindfully on the journey to a more peaceful experience:
1. Nurture with Nutrition. Remind teens to eat sensibly and often. Hunger and overeating can negatively impact a growing body and mind. Focusing on healthy foods can keep stress at bay while fueling young bodies for action.
2. Rejuvenate with Breath Work. Everyone can benefit from a regular relaxation practice that focuses on a mind-body connection and breathing techniques. Attend a yoga or Tai Chi class together and bond while you breathe.
3. Ditch Perfection. Encourage young adults to be satisfied with doing their best. In our society of ‘do more, be more’, perfectionism can be a losing game. Don’t forget to offer Kudos when you see your teen doing their best, especially if the outcome isn’t what was intended. Congratulating them on a job well done for a lost game means just as much as approval for winning the championship.
4. Tell a New Story. Inspire your teen to break-up with negative self-talk for good. Support them as they learn to restructure negative phrases with more positive ones.
5. Speak Up. Teach your child to utilize role play to act out possible stressful situations, such as speaking in front of a crowd or peer reviews of a project. Rehearsing scenarios can help quash anxiety.
6. Just Say No. Reassure teens to dodge illegal substances like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Focusing on optimal health and wellness as a matter of routine is fun and can pave the way for healthy habits in adult life.
7. Network. Engage teens to build a support network of allies such as coaches, clergy, friends and family for encouragement when times are tough. Also, provide outlets for diverting stress, such as exercise, cooking, drawing, writing, enjoying music, or other non-performance based hobbies, as a way to relieve stress.
Let’s face it; life can be stressful for both teens and adults. However, the way youngsters manage stress could determine the quality of their life as an adult. Parents can help teens develop healthy ways to react to stress by offering healthful alternatives to stress reactions. In doing so, you can show teenagers constructive ways to defuse the stress response and respond in positive ways.
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