Stress management for teens is a component of their daily life. A response to challenge and adversity, and an all-encompassing word for that feeling we get when we’re pressed for time and have things to do. But stress, like anything else, can devolve into poison. Given a high enough dosage, it feeds anxiety and negative thinking. It affects you physically. It makes you achy, tired, and sad. Learning to manage your stress levels is one of the most important things for long and healthy life, not to mention a happy one.
It’s important to understand where your limits lie when they’re being stretched, and what you could or should do to reign your stress levels back in. This is especially important for teens. Teens are faced with the challenges of growing into adulthood while taking on ever-growing tasks and responsibilities. High stress can lead to poor academic performance, lack of sleep, poor diet, unhealthy weight loss or weight gain, physical fatigue, and loss of motivation. Let’s look at a few key lessons in addressing stress management for teens.
Preventing Preventable Stressors
An important part of stress management for teens is understanding that stress can cascade. That means preventing the little stressors can help reduce the pile-on effect of long-term stress. Take joy where you can find it. Seek out the little pleasures. Adopt a routine that helps you start each day off on a good note. Find whatever makes you happy for just a moment, and make sure to incorporate it into your mornings, your breaks, your evening comedown.
Relaxing and Stabilizing
This is extraordinarily difficult for a lot of teens. A lot of teens will avoid relaxing or seeking out short-term stress relief because they’ve got deadlines, due dates, overdue projects, and a million other things bothering them. They might be going through family trouble, relationship issues, broken friendships, or grief over a personal loss.
A lot of stress is unavoidable. But the stress you place on yourself can be avoided. Give yourself a break. Recognize when your body is giving you the telltale signs that enough is enough – and do what you must to take a step back and prevent a breakdown. Here are a few signs that you are approaching your limit:
- You’re constantly sore in the neck and back.
- Can feel your heart race at random moments.
- Have a hard time concentrating on anything anymore.
- Feel absolutely overwhelmed, and sometimes, on the verge of tears.
- You don’t seem to wake up energized no matter how much you rest or sleep.
- Your jaw is painful and tight all of a sudden, despite it never being a problem before.
Addressing Time and Stress Management for Teens
A lot of stress for teens is time-related. Will I have enough time to cram for the exam and hang out with my friends? Do I have enough time to make it to the bus and not be late for school? Could I have enough time to finish up and pass this project? These time management issues continue to haunt us in adulthood. They result in missed deadlines, lost job opportunities, fumbled raises, and family resentment.
A poor work-life balance and terrible time management skills can fuel anxieties about yourself and your future, and feed depressive thoughts. Learning to manage your time leads to managing stress. If you feel yourself spiraling out of control, set strict schedules, and leave room for relaxation. That means being realistic about when you wake up and go to bed, setting daily goals, creating incentives for those goals, and ending every night with something that helps calm you and take your mind off your studies or work.
Bottling and Internalizing
It’s something you might have heard before, but it bears repeating – there’s no use in bottling your stress up inside. Ignoring stress and its psychological impact is not enough to compensate for your perceived lack of productivity. In fact, it will generally make you perform worse, whether at school, at work, or even at home. Even if you treat your body like a tool rather than, well, your body, you have to recognize that tools break down without regular maintenance and upkeep. We all need breaks and opportunities to take a breath.
Learning Healthy Coping Mechanisms
There are a few concrete ways to reduce your stress levels besides doing something you already love doing. Managing your stress levels successfully usually means incorporating at least one of the following into your schedule:
Exploring and Recharging
Nature is an amazing physical and mental recharger. A stroll through the park or a walk in the woods has definite health benefits and can drastically lower your overall stress levels. If you live near some nature and just can’t get anything done for the day, take an hour or two to drive to the park or to the woods and soak it in for a while.
Moving and Breathing
We know exercise is good for us, but it’s often underestimated just how good it can be for the mind, too. Teens should regularly get moving to try and build healthier habits for the future. That doesn’t necessarily mean sports or the gym. You can benefit from the positive effects of movement through dancing, swimming, skipping rope, short hikes, and much more.
Understanding the Difference Between Good and Bad Stress
Stress itself is not a bad thing. But we want to steer clear from romanticizing extreme stress levels. Workaholics are not role models, and you shouldn’t want to be the kind of student who studies deep into the night every night. Unsustainable practices are unsustainable for a reason, and they will wear your body and mind down to the point where you come to a grinding halt and can’t do anything anymore. But stress is still important adversity and one we need.
Stress is a sign that we are getting motivated. When you have stress it can be a positive force to fuel self-improvement. Some stress can help us do better. Stress is also normal. When you take a test, It’s normal to be stressed. It can be normal to be stressed about landing that job interview. There are times when it can be normal to be stressed about your first time driving. It’s when stress seeps into mundane and everyday moments that it’s all becoming too much.