How to handle stress, for your teen

School may be winding down, but that does not mean that your teenager's stressors are absent. Even during the summer, teens are stressed. Turns out, teens stress out over more than just school work. Parents (sorry, it's true), friend problems, romantic partners and just navigating social pressures of drugs, alcohol and sex stress kids out. 

The added problem is that most teens avoid dealing with their stress. How many times have you asked your kid how their day went and you got an answer of "fine"? Avoiding the stress triggers and distracting themselves are easy ways to pretend like the reasons behind their stress do not exist. Face it, confronting friends and arguing with parents are more difficult tasks than scrolling on social media, binge-watching TV and playing video games. 

Teens also do not like to ask for help. Just a small percentage of teenagers actually seek out support when they are feeling stressed. That leaves parents, teachers and other adults perplexed when a teenager is acting tired, sad, depressed, overwhelmed and yet do not disclose the reason why. Oftentimes, when left alone, stress compounds and becomes something very serious like an eating disorder, depression, alcohol/drug abuse, poor academics, isolation and panic attacks. 

It is important to encourage our teenagers to participate in stress relieving activities on an on-going basis to build resiliency and avoid the impacts of their stress boiling over. By instilling practices that can be used every day to handle stress, teens can effectively manage the waxing and waning of their stressors. 

There is a barrier to entry in getting teens to admit to wanting help and following through. At our practice, we work with teens in an approachable and non-conventional way that takes the sting away from "going to therapy". By integrating yoga, meditation and seeing clients in a studio type of environment, teens are much more open and willing to work on their stress and keep coming back.

Some ways we work with teens:

  • We teach every client about the cycle of stress. Through this model, teens start to understand the things that stress them out, digging below just the surface layer of school, parents and friends. We teach teens what thoughts are perpetuating their feelings, what their typical reaction is and how to find a more helpful response to their stress.
  •  Self-awareness is key to self-development, confidence and maturity. We teach our teenager clients more about themselves. They start to understand their personality better, what makes them unique and where they are vulnerable. Teens are often lost in the comparison game and by giving them a lens to understand themselves more objectively, they understand why and how people are all so different, not better or worse. We teach them that their personality isn't something to be ashamed of or that's even their fault. So much of who we are is derived from genetics and by taking the shame off of their traits, teenagers not only start to know themselves better but also start to build more self-esteem. 
  • We keep things practical. We use science to explain concepts, but it comes down to keeping things simple for younger (really all) clients for better retention and practice. By teaching teens helpful relaxation and mindfulness exercises, our teenage clients start to develop better self-regulation, discipline and control. 
  • We use yoga in a fun, creative way. Yoga can be great for establishing focus (think balancing poses), calm (restorative poses), confidence (standing poses) and general mindfulness. We use games, humor, story-telling and metaphors to leverage the benefits of yoga and meditation. 

The summer is a great time to help your teenager build the tools to be more resilient when faced with the added stressors of the school year. We look forward to meeting you and your family soon.