There will come a time this school year when stress and overwhelm will hit your teen like a tidal wave. The most common sources of teen stress are homework, challenging teachers, friend ‘drama’ and grades. But life is full of surprises, and your teen may find herself having to deal with something difficult and unexpected. Teaching her effective coping strategies will help her deal with everyday, predictable stressors and those that come as a surprise. Learning constructive ways to cope with stress will help your teen build resilience and approach real problems in an effective and thoughtful way.
Way #1: Cognitive Coping
This type of coping involves a more thoughtful and analytic approach to stress or challenges. Actions include:
- Brainstorming solutions
- Identifying the pros and cons of a situation
- Embracing a positive mindset
- Meditating to clear the mind
Way #2: Physical Coping
This type of coping includes actions that care for the physical body, including:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing mindful breathing
Way #3: Social Coping
This approach involves other people. It is helpful because it invites outside encouragement and support. Actions include:
- Talking with a trusted friend or adult
- Helping someone else in need
- Spending time with positive, uplifting people
- Writing a “let it go” letter to the person or situation that is troubling
There are also general coping strategies like diversions and tension relievers.
Way #4: Diversions
Diversions are not distractions. They function as tools to shift focus from stressful situations or heavy feelings to more uplifting thoughts or activities. They are helpful ways to soften strong emotional reactions and gain a more balanced perspective. Diversions include:
- Art or another creative activity
- Cleaning or organizing a space
- Taking a walk or a drive
- Playing a game
Way #5: Tension releasers
These include activities that dissolve pent-up emotions and provide physical and mental relief. Practice these activities with the intention of relieving tension and letting go.
- Yelling into a pillow
- Punching a punching bag or pillow
- Stomping your feet
- Using your hands to “brush” negative energy off your body
- Shaking your limbs and jumping up and down
Challenges and stress are unique and trigger different reactions. Providing your teen with a variety of coping skills will help her handle any life challenge with resilience, confidence, and ease.