Stress. It’s that unwanted anxiety resulting from worry about issues we often can’t control.
Stress is common in teenagers, who can be consumed by school, grades and managing relationships. It’s a collision of sorts - like mental pinball - so much so that stress is regularly palpable in homes, classrooms, or wherever youths gather.
Since stress can be a lifelong challenge, teenage years are an ideal time to develop coping skills and learn to focus on what matters most. Several accessible activities can help teens mitigate their stress.
Reduce Screen Time
Smartphones are ubiquitous, with teens among the biggest consumers. Though well documented by Pew Research and the National Institutes of Health, usage numbers are quickly outdated and are only increasing. Stress may be proportionate to screen time, and a January 2018 article at msn.com speaks to smart-device addiction. Influential investors are urging device manufacturers to “develop new, easier-to-use tools to help parents limit phone use and to study the effect of overuse on mental health.” Simultaneous use of many apps and programs heighten FOMO - the fear of missing out - compounding stress levels. Accordingly, reducing screen time can be a single stroke against multiple stress drivers.
Volunteering pays multiple dividends including separation from stress-inducing activities, validating an interest and promoting community involvement. Through volunteerism, teens enhance their collaboration skills while helping a cause. Different from a part-time job that may require mandatory hours and integration with school and activity schedules, volunteer gigs have fewer scheduling demands and even “walk-away” hours. Volunteer opportunities are generally found through schools, places of worship or online.
Learn a New Skill
Teen years are an excellent time to discover how things work, break and can be repaired. Vocational and technical skills are not only valuable, but timeless. Knowing how to repair plumbing, lay tile, wire electricity or cook a meal are lifelong skills that can cultivate a new career or entrepreneurial interest. Serving as a craftsman’s apprentice is highly educational, teaches responsibility and provides a sense of accomplishment.
In contrast to stressing about many issues at once, physical activity fosters a focused level of concentration while delivering cardiovascular and conditioning benefits. Weightlifting, circuit training and cycling classes set to music are excellent alternatives to stress-inducing, competition-based activities. Yoga combines movement with relaxation, and meditation can be a single-source solution. Regardless of age, the ability to clear the mind in order to approach or solve problems with a fresh perspective is invaluable.
Reading for pleasure, adventure or instruction helps keep minds sharp and focused. Although digital devices are convenient, their easy access to social media and news sites can be distracting and stressful. Reading books has tactile benefits, can be less harmful to the eyes, and can be either an escape or the means to develop self-education skills.
These are but a few of the readily available tools to help your teen cope with stress.