The new semester brings new stressors, which can lead to both teens and parents suffering both physically and emotionally. As the new semester approaches, finding techniques for stress management for teens is key.
The American Psychological Association reports on a study that found:
- 31 percent of those surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed
- 30 percent feel sad or depressed
- 23 percent of teens admitted to skipping meals due to stress
In another study, tens of thousands of teens were asked how often they feel stressed. Results showed 45 percent answered, “all the time”. When asked what stresses them the most, the top answers were teachers and relationships, parents, college and peers.
In addition, teens stress about homework assignments, studying for exams, state testing, scholarships, jobs, peer pressure, extra-curricular activities, social media life, fights with siblings, and living up to expectations.
What Coping Skills Do Teens Use?
Not all teens know how to effectively cope with the stress they encounter daily. Coping skills reported included eating, drinking and drugs, and talking to a friend or someone supportive. Only 2.5% claimed to use school resources for help in coping with stress.
As a parent, these statistics should make you feel alarmed. They should make you want to assess your teen’s stress level and start making changes to reduce their stress. One thing you can do is to start practicing techniques for stress management for teens to succeed in school.
What is Stress Management for Teens?
Stress is your body’s response to events that trigger the fight or flight reaction. You get stressed because something is making you feel that you either need to get away or you need to prepare for battle. These events, triggers or stressors can be anything. It can be a running into a person you don’t like at the grocery store or getting pulled over by a police officer for speeding. It can be running late for work or your kids fighting over the gaming station.
Because there are so many stressors, the odds are in favor of you feeling stressed at some point each day. To prevent your stress affecting your teen, and to teach your teen excellent coping skills, implement stress management now.
Stress management for teens involves the techniques and tools and therapies that allow your teen to be in control of feelings and emotions. It prevents chronic stress which can lead to poor physical and mental health. Below are stress management practices for teens that will help them cope when encountering triggers in the new semester.
1. Establish a Support System
Everyone needs a support system, especially stressed teens. They don’t always want to talk to their parents about their stressors. To prevent them from talking to the wrong person, set them up with a group of right people.
Enrolling your teen in a support group with other teens is a great way to help your teen know they are not alone and that they have peers who can offer help. They can also be taught stress management methods from a trained mental health professional through group or individual counseling for acute stress disorder.
A support system for your teen should include people from all areas of their life. Teachers, coaches, peers, family members, religious leaders, therapists, and anyone else who can provide positive guidance.
2. Have Fun
Laughter has been shown to reduce stress. The more you can laugh and have fun, the better. Teens don’t automatically know how to have fun. They learn through experiences. If you don’t teach them positive ways to have fun, they will learn negative ones like drinking and using drugs.
There are so many things you can do to teach your teen how to have fun and reduce stress. Shopping, taking a cooking class, family game night, attend a sporting event, learn new hobbies, or see a funny movie at the cinema.
Make sure you help your teen make the connection between the fun activity and feeling less stressed so that in the future, they will have a list of go-to stress reducers.
3. Time Management
You know how it feels to be running late, unprepared, and disorganized. We have all been there before. It is very stressful. Your teen will feel the same stress if they are never prepared for class or lose assignments.
Time management can be easily learned. Keeping a calendar, planner or scheduler, even if it is on an APP on a smartphone, can help your teen get organized. Setting reminders is a bonus.
Learning time management can help teens view their responsibilities for the week and feel rewarded each time they check off something they accomplished.
4. Sleep Hygiene
The routine before, during and after sleep is called your sleep hygiene. Most teens have horrible sleep hygiene. They stay up too late on their electronics, they cram the night before a big test, binge watch television shows, and keep up with the latest drama on social media.
When do they have time to sleep?
Reports show many teens are not getting the eight to nine hours of sleep they need each night. Instead, they are getting four or five hours, sometimes less. Too little sleep can lead teens to eat poorly, have a hard time focusing in class, and become easily agitated.
To improve sleep hygiene, teens need to create healthy habits that help the body wind down, fall into deep sleep, wake up and feel rested and energized.
The habits should be done at the same time each night, so the body’s biological clock knows what to expect. Brushing teeth, bathing, reading, signing off social media, turning off electronics, setting alarms, saying prayers or visualizing, and turning off the lights are examples of habits that lead to good sleep hygiene.
5. Relaxation Techniques
Learning relaxation techniques should be a family thing. Each member can benefit from having an armory of stress busters. Techniques include deep breathing, guided meditation, yoga, and progressive relaxation.
These techniques can teach your teen to become mindful of both their physical and mental needs.
Stress management for teens involves teaching these techniques so even when they are independent and away at school, they’ll be equipped to manage their stress. They will have confidence they can overcome stressors they face in the new semester and beyond.
Paradigm Austin is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.