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The Teen Stress Epidemic: Tips on how to manage anxiety

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This Blog Was Wrote As A Guest Blog By: Laura Pearson

Trouble fitting in, issues with self-confidence, hours of homework, pending career choices. All of this combined with the pressures of social media and many teens are running for cover. Is it any wonder anxiety rates among teens are on the rise? Increasingly, today’s teens are over scheduled, over burdened, and overly unhappy.

Imagine this scenario: They arise (usually before the sun) to tackle a full day of learning, then they’re off to an extracurricular activity, followed by required service hours, then home for a few hours of homework, a quick dinner followed by some college research, and then finally bed. With all of this, there’s no time left for anything remotely resembling relaxation.

If you’re a teen or the parent of a teen whose anxiety is on the rise, make some time to incorporate these tips to improve well-being and manage stress.

Relaxation Activities

Implementing yoga or Tai-chi exercises into a weekly routine can greatly diminish overwhelming stress. According to Harvard Medical School, yoga stabilizes the body’s stress response systems. These systems include heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing, all of which correlate to stress levels.

These exercises also work to help participants gain control over their mind-body connection through relaxation. These techniques can also transition to real-life stress triggers, providing valuable healthy responses to counteract emotional breakdowns or outbursts and other unhealthy coping symptoms.

Get plenty of zzzzzz

Teens and young adults are notorious for staying up late and missing sleep. And all that missed sleep leads to trouble. Research has found a direct correlation between lack of sleep and anxiety disorders. Not to mention that lack of sleep weakens your immune system, causes weight gain and raises your blood pressure.

According to the American Pediatric Association, teens should be getting between eight and 10 hours of sleep per night. Adhering to these guidelines has a wealth of benefits:

  • Better memory

  • Improved creativity

  • Better performance

  • Better grades

  • Heightened attentiveness

Socialize

Having a social life is critical for a teen’s mental health. Studies like one conducted at Warwick Medical School in England, have found that having friends decreases the probability for depression by 50% in teens. Friends provide a valuable outlet for communicating and managing any stressors that may lead to depression.

Teens without a strong social network should considering joining academic clubs, sports teams, or other social organizations. Schools often have events to promote groups at the beginning of every academic year; if you missed that, consult your school’s guidance counselor.

Managing major life changes

If your family is going through a major change, say a move for example, stress levels can soar. Moving is a stressful time for everyone, but children can be most impacted by this transition:

  • Both parents and children should talk through all of the feelings associated with the move. Keeping the lines of communication open to share positive feelings and feelings of concern will smooth out the transition.

  • Establish a good form of communication with your social network before moving. You don’t have to abandon friends when you move. Today’s advanced technologies like Skype and Instagram provide plenty of opportunities to stay in touch.  Also, consider setting a reunion date before you move so you’ll something to look forward to.

  • Making new friends is important. Find ways to socialize at church, at school, and through taking up any old hobbies like dance classes in your new hometown.

Therapy

Sometimes stress rises above the normal level of anxiety to a clinical level that requires proper treatment. If you’re seeing these warning signs, it’s important to seek counseling.

  • Sadness and irritability that rarely resolves

  • Intense mood swings

  • Day-to-day functions are a struggle, schoolwork is missing, grades are dropping, absences are increasing, low energy, missing conversations and poor personal hygiene

  • Onset of drug or alcohol use

It’s important to realize anxiety isn’t unique. In fact, nearly 20% of Americans are dealing with anxiety. That’s why parents and teens should use this time to actively pursue open lines of communication while developing an action plan to manage stress and anxiety. These difficult emotions don’t have to determine your day or your life and you can take control. Be there for one another and be patient. Most of all, remember that out of every dark spot comes incredible light.

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