It’s no secret that adolescence is tough, with a million and one things that can stress your teen to the point of distraction. Although a little stress is normal, and in some cases can actually motivate your teen, too much worry can leave them unable to function properly. Teens are rarely able to identify they are stressed, and even if they do, often don’t have the experience to deal with it. Here’s how you can offer a helping hand and practical advice to guide them through.
Exercise is the number-one stress buster. And the good thing is, it really doesn’t matter what form it takes. Regular exercise gives your teen frequent shots of powerful endorphins, which relax the body, and decrease stress levels. When particularly stressed, your teen could benefit from a quick spurt of vigorous activity, such as running up a flight of stairs, which helps get rid of the adrenalin causing the stress, and expel feelings of anxiety, leading to a calmer, clearer mind.
Sleep, and Plenty of it
Yes, we know that sleep is often a dirty word for teens, but an adequate amount of sleep is simply crucial for a whole host of reasons during this stage of their development. Where stress is concerned, a lack of sleep can leave your teen groggy and unfocused, which only exacerbates the panicky feelings, and reinforces a sense of being overwhelmed.
Your teen needs to find their own way to relax their mind and body when feeling particularly stressed. Help them explore ways to alleviate the tension that comes with stress, such as using simple yoga techniques that concentrate on abdominal breathing, and muscle relaxation exercises.
If yoga isn’t your teen’s bag, there are other simple ways to relax, such as taking a hot bath, sitting quietly reading a book, cuddling a beloved pet, or going on a long walk.
Foster a Positive Attitude
Nothing piles on the stress quicker than a negative attitude, or expecting too much from yourself. Teens are often very hard on themselves, and turning their mind-set around from being pessimistic can be challenging; however, the simple fact is that optimistic, positive people are better equipped to deal with the stresses of life.
Perfection is Not Required, Every Time
Try to help your child see when they are being unrealistic, or too tough on themselves. Some teens are not satisfied with anything less than absolute perfection, but explain that nobody is perfect all the time.
Take time to carefully consider the message you are sending your teen: do you give the impression that high grades are the only thing that matters? Perhaps your teen feels that they need to deliver, or won’t match up to your expectations. Teens who heap on the stress and push themselves too hard are often trying to please a parent.
Lend a Shoulder
Talking through a problem is a tremendous stress buster, so always make sure you are available to provide a safe sounding board for your teen. This isn’t a time for you to add your own comments (especially if they are critical or negative), as this will only intensify stress in a teen, rather than reduce it.
A teen’s worries can often seem trivial or irrational to us, but it is important to respect their feelings, and not make light of things that are troubling them. In many cases, just talking about their worries is enough for a teen to be able to work through what is bothering them.
Don’t Let Them Overload
Teenagers often over-commit to way too many activities and responsibilities. Help them see that they are perhaps overdoing it, and where they can maybe cut back to alleviate some of the stress. If your teen has problems prioritizing school work or isn’t the best at organizing themselves, help to come up with time management solutions.
Teens often have difficulty in saying no; they worry that they will offend or disappoint someone, and this is especially true with their friends. However, it is important they learn that they need to put themselves first, and it is perfectly okay to say no sometimes.
Be a Positive Role Model
Teens are very susceptible to influence, and how you act will undoubtedly affect their own behavior. If you have a stressful job that you bring it home with you, find it difficult to say no, or go into a meltdown whenever things start to get on top of you, it stands to reason that your teen might push themselves too hard, or crumble at the mere hint of adversity. Lead by example, and your teen will follow suit.