like adults, may experience stress everyday and can benefit
from learning stress management skills. Most teens experience
more stress when they perceive a situation as dangerous, difficult,
or painful and they do not have the resources to cope. Some
sources of stress for teens might include:
demands and frustrations
thoughts and feelings about themselves
in their bodies
or divorce of parents
illness or severe problems in the family
of a loved one
or changing schools
on too many activities or having too high expectations
teens become overloaded with stress. When it happens, inadequately
managed stress can lead to anxiety, withdrawal, aggression,
physical illness, or poor coping skills such as drug and/or
perceive a situation as difficult or painful, changes occur
in our minds and bodies to prepare us to respond to danger.
This "fight, flight, or freeze" response includes faster heart
and breathing rate, increased blood to muscles of arms and
legs, cold or clammy hands and feet, upset stomach and/or
a sense of dread.
mechanism that turns on the stress response can turn it off.
As soon as we decide that a situation is no longer dangerous,
changes can occur in our minds and bodies to help us relax
and calm down. This "relaxation response" includes decreased
heart and breathing rate and a sense of well being. Teens
that develop a "relaxation response" and other stress management
skills feel less helpless and have more choices when responding
can help their teen in these ways:
if stress is affecting their teen's health, behavior, thoughts,
carefully to teens and watch for overloading
and model stress management skills
involvement in sports and other pro-social activities
can decrease stress with the following behaviors and techniques:
and eat regularly
excess caffeine intake which can increase feekings of anxiety
illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco
relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation
assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings
in polite firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways:
("I feel angry when you yell at me" "Please stop yelling.")
and practice situations which cause stress. One example
is taking a speech class if talking in front of a class
makes you anxious
practical coping skills. For example, break a large task
into smaller, more attainable tasks
negative self talk: challenge negative thoughts about yourself
with alternative neutral or positive thoughts. "My life
will never get better" can be transformed into "I may feel
hopeless now, but my life will probably get better if I
work at it and get some help"
to feel good about doing a competent or "good enough" job
rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others
a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening
to music, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, or spending
time with a pet can reduce stress
a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way
these and other techniques, teenagers can begin to manage
stress. If a teen talks about or shows signs of being overly
stressed, a consultation with a child and adolescent psychiatrist
or qualified mental health professional may be helpful.
#66 Updated 11/98
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training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child
and adolescent psychiatry.
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