A Greek philosopher once said “Change is the only constant in life”. People change, circumstances change, thoughts change. Adolescents find it a lot more difficult to cope with such variations, which can lead to acute stress, anxiety, burnout and tension.
As adults, we are accustomed to the daily aspects of our lives that can cause us to experience stress; we have adjusted and learned how to handle most of these situations, but experts have observed a rise in the number of stressed out children and youths.
For a long time adolescents were believed to be living the good life – no job, no taxes and certainly no responsibilities – supposedly the best years of your life. This is only part of the picture. Life for many young people is a painful tug of war filled with mixed messages and conflicting demands from parents, teachers, coaches, friends and oneself. Growing up – negotiating a path between independence and reliance on others – is a tough business. While the demands of school are often blamed, the stress often stems from multiple sources. Some have trouble making friends or being accepted by their peers, and face family problems or have high personal expectations. It creates stress, and it can create serious anxiety for young people ill-equipped to cope, communicate and solve problems. For certain individuals it can lead to substance abuse and acting out in a way that can get them into trouble, or worse.
Good Stress or Bad Stress?
Stress can be good or bad. To some degree, “good” stress, known as eustress, can bring out the best in an individual. “Bad” stress, known as distress, can cause headaches, nightmares, irritability and fatigue. Therefore, it is very important for parents to teach their kids the art of handling stress and anxiety. Youngsters, given proper guidance and time, will learn to overcome stress and stress-related issues.
How to deal with the stress levels experienced by your kids
You can make a positive change in your children’s life, not just in the short-term, but in the long-term. Helping them cope with stressful situations can positively impact the way they view the world and how they handle everything that life throws at them, who knows . . . they might turn into the next Nobel prize winner.
Ensuring that your children get a full night’s sleep can help them deal with stress better. Between schoolwork, sports, social life, other extracurricular activities and home, adolescents have little time to get proper sleep. They tend to stay up late at night and leave the house very early. Relaxation is necessary to de-stress. When the body is relaxed, the mind also relaxes and rejuvenates.
2. Physical activity
Physical activity is one of the best stress relievers for teenagers. When your kids are stressed encourage them to take up a sport or to keep their body and mind healthy to beat stress. You can even make it a bonding experience, like going for a run together.
3. Healthy diet
A balanced diet that includes a good intake of fruits, vegetables as well as dairy and protein will keep your children healthy. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. When your children are stressed they tend to eat junk food – replace such food with healthy options like avocados, berries, milk and dark chocolate (yes, dark chocolate can be beneficial as it’s packed with antioxidants).
4. Focus on the positives
An effective way to deal with stress is to help your teenager fight the negative thinking patterns that they seem to develop when they are stressed. You can help your child by reminding them of their strengths and how they can put them to use to deal with the situation better.
5. Talk about it
Talking is therapeutic and one of the most effective stress relievers too. Also, talking about a problem will help you find a solution for it sooner. The most important thing you should do as a parent is to listen to your child’s feelings and see what you can do to make it easier for them.
6. Support from parents
Children can be difficult to handle as it is. They become worse when they are stressed out. If you want to help your child deal with stress better, you need to be there for them and support them through it, and not make it more difficult for them. If the stress and anxiety gets to too much for your children to cope with, then it is your job as a loving parent to seek professional help.
7. Do what makes you happy
What makes you happy cannot stress you out, the same goes for your kids. Let your children do what they like to do, inadvertently it will help them to relieve stress. It could be something as simple as listening to music, playing a game or watching a movie.
You have the power to initiate change.
Children between the ages of 8 and 17 say they worry about doing well in school, getting into a good university and also about their family’s finances. Today’s youth are more susceptible to what is going on around them and the pressure of doing well is always increasing. Every parent believes their child has the ability to become the next great president or to change the world, and given the right tools to deal with all these demands, they might well be the next Oprah or Mark Zuckerberg. Adults who play a part in the lives of teenagers can be the difference between a burned-out, constantly nervous adult and a strong, confident individual ready to conquer the world.