Stress & Anxiety
While all teens feel anxious from time to time, some feel it more than others. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Things like tests, meeting new people, speaking in public, going on a date, and competing in sports can make us feel apprehensive or uneasy. But some teens react much more strongly to stressful situations than others. Even thinking about the situations may cause them great distress.
Anxiety can be a good thing when it helps you deal with a tense situation. For example, when you're studying for a test, a little anxiety can make you want to study hard so you do well. But at other times, anxiety can be harmful, especially when it is excessive and irrational, and prevents you from being able to focus.
Sometimes the anxiety can come between you and your friends, especially when you avoid going out with them or calling them because you're too panicked or tense. This level of anxiety is harmful and that's when you need to do something to feel less anxious so you can fully enjoy your teenage life.
Healthy Ways to Cope with Anxiety
Between homework, activities and hanging with friends, it can be hard to get enough sleep, especially during the school week. Ideally, adolescents should get nine hours a night. To maximize the chance of sleeping soundly, cut back on watching TV or engaging in a lot of screen time in the late evening hours. Don’t drink caffeine late in the day and try not to do stimulating activities too close to bedtime.
Focus on your strengths
Spend some time really thinking about the things you’re good at, and find ways to do more of those things. If you’re a math ace, you might tutor a younger neighbor who’s having trouble with the subject. If you are a spiritual person, you might volunteer at your church. If you’re artistic, take a photography class. Focusing on your strengths will help you keep your stress in perspective.
Engage in physical activity
Physical activity is one of the most effective stress busters. That doesn’t mean you have to go for a jog if you hate running. Find activities you enjoy and build them into your routine such as yoga, hiking, biking, skateboarding, or walking. The best types of physical activities are those that have a social component. Whether you’re into team sports, or prefer rollerblading with a friend or two, you’re more likely to have fun — and keep at it — if you’re being active with friends.
Do things that make you happy
Besides physical activities, find other hobbies or activities that bring you joy. That might be listening to music, going to the movies, or drawing. Keep doing these things even when you’re stressed and busy.
Talk to someone
It’s so much easier to manage stress when you let others lend a hand. Talk to a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult. They may be able to help you find new ways to manage stress. Or they may help put you in touch with a psychologist who is trained in helping people make healthy choices and manage stress.
Copyright Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D. 2014