One of the most common things I hear from my teen patients is that they are busy. Most teens are going to school full time, participating in extracurricular activities (sports, theater, orchestra, youth groups), being older or younger siblings, and trying to fit in a social life. Add a job, volunteer activities, and spending time with family and most teens have more to do each day than I do as the working mom of an infant!
Though they can’t (or may not want) to take a break from all of these activities, having a few tips for relieving stress can be extremely helpful when life starts to become overwhelming.These are strategies I personally use to take a ‘mini break’ when I’m feeling very busy. Not all will work for everyone though. I tell teens to think of 3-5 things they can do to relieve stress and then write them down. Post them on the bathroom mirror or next to your bed. The last thing they’ll want to do if feeling overwhelmed is try to remember how to calm down.
- Breathe. Focus on breathing for a moment. Try taking 5-7 deep breaths in and out through your mouth. Use your belly (like babies do); when you breathe in your belly should expand out, then slowly exhale.
- Picture yourself in your favorite place. While taking the deep breaths above, I imagine myself on the beach, the sun on my shoulders, my feet in the sand. That’s my favorite place, but your teen may love snow. Have them close their eyes and try to imagine the place, the smells, and how they feel there.
- Call a friend and talk for a minute.
- Listen to your favorite song. I sing at the top of my lungs while listening, but I have teens who tell me they dance in their room or just listen to the lyrics.
- Give someone a hug.
- Go for a 5 minute walk.
None of these tips takes very much time. It’s just enough of a break from whatever the source of stress is to give a little relief. For me, taking a ‘mini break’ enables me to have the energy to keep going.
What things do you use to relieve stress? Does your teen already have some strategies?