The last two years threw most of us off track, and teens and young adults took an especially hard hit. Between the major changes brought on by Covid and everyday stress from school, friendships, and social media, many girls found themselves in a state of despair. Reports of depression and anxiety among teens and young adults skyrocketed. Therapists and coaches were flooded with new young clients. And parents’ worries reached new heights.
No matter what triggers your daughter’s feelings of sadness, stress, anxiety, worry, or fear, she needs a set of strategies to help her cope. This will help her gain a sense of control over her emotions and her situation. She will be able to approach life with strength and wisdom and stay on track when curveballs are thrown her way.
Following is a list of coping strategies that I share with my teen and young adult clients. Some are tools to use in the moment and others are regular practices that work to keep stress low and optimism high. The girls I work with have told me that these strategies work! Share them with your daughter and keep the list handy for easy reminders.
Coping Strategies to PracticeRegularly
1. Start every day thinking of at least one good thing that can happen.
2. Remind yourself daily of your unique strengths and find ways to use them. (This is not bragging! It’s giving yourself a daily boost of self-esteem and confidence.)
3. Write in a journal. Journaling does not need to be a laborious task. You can write a few sentences, a list, or pages and pages. The most important thing is to use your journal as a place to vent, dream, and reflect on your day.
4. See each day is a fresh start! You can’t change what happened yesterday but you can impact what happens today.
5. Find a motivational quote. Make it visually appealing and place it where you will see it every day.
Strategies to Cope in the Moment
6. Ask for help. Whether a friend, parent, life coach or teacher, reach out in moments of stress and struggle. Ask for support, guidance, a listening ear, or whatever you feel you need to help yourself feel better.
7. Take several slow, deep breaths to calm your body and ask yourself, what choices do I have? This question will prompt you to think of where you can take an action and take control.
8. Get grounded. Put both feet on the ground. Sit or stand tall, lengthening your spine and bringing space into your body. Focus on what is happening in that very moment. Tell yourself: I am breathing, I am standing (or sitting), I see____, I hear____, I am safe.
9. Move your body. Physical movement like dancing, running, jumping, or even shaking your body for just a few minutes will change your energy and soften heavy feelings. It’s a remarkable way to experience relief and clarity.
10. Don’t beat yourself up! It’s very common to experience an overwhelming feeling and then feel bad about it. You might hear a voice in your head saying, You shouldn’t be so mad/sad/anxious. What’s wrong with you?? or Everyone else seems to handle this, why can’t I? Talking to yourself this way is like adding salt to a wound. You only end up adding to the stress or anxiety you feel. Instead, let yourself feel what you feel. Remind yourself that it’s normal to respond to intense or surprising stressors in an intense (and even surprising) way. Be compassionate with yourself.