Stress is a natural part of life, and everyone experiences it at some point. However, for kids and teens, stress can be especially challenging to handle as they navigate the complexities of growing up. With the increasing demands of school, social pressures, and family responsibilities, it’s no wonder that stress can feel overwhelming at times. That’s why stress management is an essential skill for children and teenagers to develop. Learning to manage stress can help them cope with challenging situations, build resilience, and maintain their mental and physical well-being. This introduction will explore some effective stress management strategies for kids and teens to help them lead happier, healthier lives.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings.
You can feel anxious about different things at different ages. Many of these worries are a normal part of growing up. For example, many children feel anxious when going to a new school or before tests and exams. Some children feel shy in social situations and may need support with this.
Anxiety can become a problem when you feel stuck in it, or when it feels like an overwhelming, distressing, or unmanageable experience. If this kind of worrying goes on for a long time, it can leave you feeling exhausted and isolated.
Can stress be helpful?
All kids and teens feel stressed at times. Stress is a normal response to changes and challenges. And life is full of those. We tend to think of stress as a bad thing, caused by bad events. But upcoming good events (like graduations, holidays, or new activities) also can cause stress.
You can feel stress when there’s something you need to prepare for, adapt to, or guard against. Change often prompts stress — even when it’s a change for the better. Stress has a purpose. It’s a signal to get ready.
In small amounts, and when you have the right support, stress can be a positive boost. It can help you rise to a challenge. It can help you push toward goals, focus your effort, and meet deadlines. This kind of positive stress allows you to build the inner strengths and skills known as resilience. It can prepare you to handle life’s bigger challenges and opportunities.
Can stress be harmful?
Stress or anxiety that is too intense, serious, long-lasting, or sudden can overwhelm one’s ability to cope. Stress can be harmful when you don’t have a break from stress, or when you lack the support or the coping skills you need.
What does stress look like?
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
- Not eating properly
- Quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
- Always crying
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
What can you do to feel better?
Things that work best in these moments:
- Find positive activities you enjoy.
- Think about something you’re looking forward to.
- Do physical exercise. (Physical activity is an essential stress reliever for people of all ages.)
- Learn mindfulness and yoga. (Researchers found that teens who learned mindfulness experienced significantly less mental distress than teens who did not.)
- Imagine your thoughts leaving your brain and floating off into the sky.
- Keep yourself occupied and make time for fun!
- Talk to other people you trust. (Talking about stressful situations with a trusted adult can help you put things in perspective and find solutions.)
- Remind yourself you’re not alone.
- Sleep well. (Sleep is essential for physical and emotional well-being.)
- Get outside. (Spending time in nature is an effective way to relieve stress.)
- Write about it. (Research has found that expressing oneself in writing can help reduce mental distress and improve well-being.)
Quick Ways to Calm Down and Let It Go:
- Imagine your favorite place – it’s like taking a mini vacation wherever you are.
- Think of your favorite things.
- Name animals alphabetically (alligator, bear, cow, dog, etc…)
- Squeeze Something (play dough, clay, silly putty, your fists, a stress ball).
- Get a cold drink of water.
- 54321 Grounding – go through each of your 5 senses.
- Give yourself a hug – squeeze tight!
- Remember the words to a song you love.
In conclusion, stress management is an important skill that can benefit kids and teens in numerous ways. By learning to identify and manage stress, children and teenagers can improve their mental and physical health, build resilience, and develop effective coping strategies that will serve them well throughout their lives. While there are many different techniques and approaches to stress management, it’s essential to find strategies that work for each individual. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness, exercise, talking to a trusted friend or family member, or seeking professional support, there are many resources available to help kids and teens manage stress in healthy and effective ways. With the right tools and support, children and teenagers can learn to handle stress in positive ways and lead happier, healthier lives.