Stress & Teens
Got an over-anxious teenager? Help her try these simple, healthy stress busters.
By: Gregory Germain, MD
It’s never been easy to be a teenager (remember your own high school woes?), but nowadays it is harder than ever. The competition to be a better dresser or sports player, to get better grades, to take or not take drugs—it’s all intense.
All kids have to come to terms with where they fit into the world and how much pressure they will put on themselves. It is your job as a parent not to micromanage your child’s world—that will probably make matters worse—but to be there for your child when she needs you for support.
What Teens Worry About
Many adolescents have trouble dealing with stress; they may never have been as aware of it before, and now need to develop the right tools. A teen can always find lots of things to worry about:
- family concerns
- fitting in
- body issues
- friend problems
- the death of a loved one
Often every problem, no matter how big or small, takes on equal proportion in the life of a teen; these problems can seem insurmountable to your son or daughter. Again, be there for her but help her to develop coping mechanisms.
Stress-Fighters for Teens
How best can teens combat the stressors in their lives?
- Exercise is a great stress reliever. It’s hard to really feel pressure when you are working your body hard. It’s a great habit to get into, so encourage your daughter to take a walk or go for a run if she is having a hard time. If she’s going through a prolonged stressful period, a yoga class might help.
- Eating well—which means cutting back on caffeine and fast-food— and getting enough sleep also goes along way towards lowering stress.
- Team sports can relieve tension for teens. (But be cautious: Team sports are fraught with more stressors—Will she get to play? Will he play his position well?)
- Talking to you, a family member, a friend, your pediatrician, or a clergy member also helps.
Because your teen may not have her coping skills down, she may be more likely than an adult to turn to drugs. That’s why this is the time to teach your child to rely on you, her family and her friends to conquer her stress with positive actions.