Struggling to cope with stress? Don’t worry, we’re not just going to tell you to do yoga and meditate and call it a day. We know life for teens can be stressful, especially right now! Stress is normal during the best of times, but this last year has thrown challenges our way that young people have never experienced.
Stress management is a skill everyone needs to learn, and unfortunately, many adults don’t think to learn it until their stress has gotten so out of control that it starts seriously impacting their relationships and even their health. We hope that by giving you some easy-to-implement stress coping techniques, you’ll be inspired to put them into your daily practice early in life.
Stress for teens doesn’t always look the same as stress for adults. Family tensions, academic pressure, social relationships, or feeling overwhelmed with the amount of responsibilities and activities on your plate are common sources of stress. Here are some ways for you recognize stress:
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of sleep
- Irritability and anger
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Getting sick more often
If you recognize symptoms of stress in yourself, here are some ways to combat it:
It sounds like a no-brainer, but sleep really is essential to the well-being of teens, who need between 8-10 hours of sleep every night. If you find that you struggle with getting enough sleep, or it’s hard to get up in the morning, try to turn off all your electronics within three hours of bedtime. The blue light from personal devices and television can keep your brain in an “awake” state and make it really difficult to drop into dreamland. Some people find it helpful to avoid keeping digital devices in the bedroom. It also helps to have a completely dark room, installing blackout curtains and investing in an eye mask and/or earplugs can go a long way in making sure you are able to get a solid block of uninterrupted rest.
Moving your body is so important when it comes to stress relief! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity for children ages 6 to 17. Find something that feels fun and easy to do, like skateboarding, rollerblading, hiking, or swimming. You may need to start slow, dedicating 3 days a week at first, and find that you want to make it an everyday thing after you notice how much better you feel. Bonus points if you get outside - research shows that time spent in nature is beneficial to stress relief. Walking is a great way to move your body, and easy to work in if you’re able to walk to and from school.
It’s important to make time for you - whether it’s time to have fun with friends or just some unstructured quiet time, having something to look forward to can be useful in lowering feelings of anxiety and stress. Teens can often feel like they’re bouncing from one activity to the next, so don’t be afraid to say “no thanks” to a social engagement or activity so that your system has time to recharge. Try to find a healthy balance between free time and active time.
Write it Out
Studies show that self-expression through writing can dramatically lower mental distress and improve feelings of well-being. Some research indicates that making a point to write about positive feelings, such as keeping a gratitude journal and listing things you’re proud of, can play a major role in stress reduction.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) YouTube videos exploded in popularity in 2013, with many reporting that they are incredibly useful in relieving stress and anxiety. What is ASMR? ASMR describes the euphoric tingling sensation some people feel in response to certain visuals and sounds. The tingling often begins in the head, shoulders, or spine before spreading to other areas of the body, ultimately creating a blissful sense of relaxation. ASMR triggers vary and are individualized to the person, but they often involve slow, repetitive, or ordinary activities like hair brushing, folding towels, whispering, or finger tapping. There are literally millions of videos on YouTube dedicated to triggering an ASMR response in people - you may find that watching a 20 minute video does wonders for your stress relief. If it’s not for you, that’s ok too!
We hope some of these tips will be helpful to implement into your daily routine. Making a point of reducing your stress now can lead to good habits that will see you through to adulthood. And don't’ forget to breathe!