Teens & stress

A helpful 10-point plan to help teens cope with stress and anxiety

Studies have shown that nearly one in three adolescents aged 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. And these numbers have been rising steadily. Between 2007 and 2012, anxiety disorders in children and teens increased 20 per cent.

What’s going on? Genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events all contribute. But today’s teens also need to cope with high expectations and pressure to succeed in a world that feels scary and threatening and expectations created by social media. Something has to give.

When your teen is feeling overwhelmed by stress, they could start to withdraw, to become aggressive and anxious and their schoolwork and friendships can start to suffer. They may become physically ill because their body has limited nutritional reserves left to support the immune system. They may even resort to poor coping skills … drug or alcohol abuse, or     impulsive behaviour.

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It goes without saying that stressed out teenagers need their parents to support them. But parents also lead busy, stressful lives and it isn’t always easy to notice when your teenager is feeling overwhelmed. And it’s not always easy knowing what to do.

THIS 10-POINT PLAN HAS SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU TO GIVE THEM THAT REALLY DO WORK:

  1. Be mindful of stressors It can be easier to just put your head down and keep moving forward without giving much thought to how you are feeling. Encourage your teen to take a breather and check in with themselves regularly. It’s better to deal with stressors sooner rather than later.

2. Avoid unnecessary stress We all know teenagers who seem to love the drama of life and seem to create their own stress. Teach your teen to pick their battles. Not everything is worth spending energy on.

3. Focus on the things you can change Not everything is under our control. Your high-schooler can’t decide when the geometry test is going to be, or whether they will be picked for the soccer team. But they can get out of bed 10 minutes earlier to make it to school on time and they can control their schedules to make time to study for their tests.

4. Exercise regularly It may seem like adding exercise to the daily routine is just another stressor. But physical activity makes it much easier to manage the stress of everyday life as it releases hormones that make us feel good and help to reduce stress hormones.

5. Enjoy relaxing activities It’s really important to take time out to relax. It’s not a waste of time and it’s not being selfish. Whether it is yoga, a walk with the dog, a good laugh with friends or doodling in a journal, spending some time doing the things you enjoy will boost your mental health.

6. Good nutrition The basis of good health is good nutrition as it provides the body with the nutrients it needs to support you physically and mentally, and in times of overwhelming stress it can be useful to supplement your diet with nutrients known to support mental health. Bioteen’s range of supplements and functional foods are formulated specifically for teenagers to support their health and wellness, study, mood and stress, and sports and exercise.

7. Get a good night’s sleep Everything seems better after a good sleep. Encourage your teen to go to bed early enough to ensure they get eight to 10 hours of sleep every night. Avoid electronic devices at least one hour before sleeping as the light from screens can suppress the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that promotes sleep.

8. Try meditation Meditating trains your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts and has been proven to provide many mental and physical health benefits. In fact, a three year study among teens recently found that using a mindfulness app resulted in significant reductions in worry that lasted up to six months, as well as some decline in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

9. Talk it out Encourage your teen to talk about what is bothering them. It helps to feel that the problem is shared. They can talk to you, a friend, a counsellor or a therapist. If they trust you with their concerns, listen to the way they speak and take special note of the type of language – and body language – they use.

10. Get involved Feeling that you are part of something and that you are making a difference is a great way to boost self-esteem and positive feelings. Join a team, get involved at church or volunteer to help others less fortunate.

How else can you help? Adults don’t always have the best coping skills, but if you learn how to manage your stress in helpful, positive ways, you can teach your teenager to do the same by being a positive role model. Actively support your teen through the hard times … it always helps to know that they have someone who cares about them in their corner. And above all, teaching them to identify when they are feeling stressed and how to effectively manage their stress will set them up for a calmer, more fulfilling life.

The Bioteen range of nutritional supplements is made for teenagers, from 13 to 19, with nutrition support for school, sport, general health and wellness. They help in combating anxiety and stress and are made with high-quality, natural food-based active ingredients and formulated in the correct, effective quantities for a developing teenage body. Details: bioteennutrition.com

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