Teaching Teens How to Handle Stress
Mar 03, 2016 02:21PM
● By Leslie Maloney
The term “stressed out” is thrown around a lot these days. A critical lesson to impart upon teens is to be able to identify stress and then manage it in their life. It is a basic life skill that is often overlooked by families and schools and yet so vital to their health and happiness.
The American Institute of Stress estimates that between 75-95% of all doctor visits are related to stress. This is linked to weakened immune systems, colds, asthma, digestive and psychological problems just to name a few symptoms. When the body is under stress, it releases cortisol which then causes other changes in our biochemistry. If we are in this state too often or for too long, our body starts to think this is normal. It’s not. Many times the nervous system needs to be reeducated back into balance.
When teens learn how stress works in their body, they are better able to understand why it is important to develop their own stress relieving tools as they move forward into adulthood. Examining these mind/body connections is important to create positive lifestyle changes.
Good questions to begin the conversation with your teen might be:
- What do you consider to be your stressors? Why?
- How does stress show up in your body? (We all have different ways it presents itself.)
- What things make you feel calm and at ease? Are these healthy ways to find balance or could you develop a healthier behavior that would add greater ease and wellness?
Exposing teens to breathing and other mindfulness techniques and encouraging them to exercise, eat well, get adequate sleep and spend time in nature, can go a very long way to reduce stress. Research done by Robert Wall published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care suggests that teens who develop stress relieving tools feel more empowered and they regularly report an overall sense of well-being, less influence of peer pressure, greater mental clarity and better relationships.
Finally, as parents, the biggest way we can teach our children about how to handle stress in healthy ways is by modeling it to them in our own behavior. Like Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
Leslie Maloney has been an educator for over thirty years. She has taught extensively in the fields of sociology, psychology and history, and has built successful life enrichment and educational programs at the high school, college and community levels, specifically coaching individuals in parent education and stress management. She has recently released her book aimed at teens/twenty-somethings called Things to Remember as You Fly From the Nest: Live an Inspired Life. For more information go to LeslieMaloney.com or email her at [email protected].