Five Positive Ways Teens Cope With Stress

Learning coping methods can help teens deal with the stress in their lives in postitive ways.

Stress is something that all teens face. Many good things that happen can cause stress, and bad things often seem overwhelming to teens that have had limited experience with adult problems. Stress can cause not just emotional problems but physical ones as well; extreme stress can even lead to serious illness, both mental and physical in nature. Learning to deal with stress is important for teens, since that is the real key to minimizing it; many people have extraordinary amounts of stress but by effectively dealing with it lead normal lives, but others fall apart at the smallest discomfort because of faulty coping methods. Following these five ways to cope will help teens learn to deal with stress in a more positive manner.

1. Developing a positive attitude is an important way for teens to cope with stress. Many people believe that being pessimistic about the outcome of things in their lives is a good plan, since they're never disappointed, but optimism can help teens to try again if something goes wrong. For instance, if a teen with a negative attitude fails a test, he may just give up and sink deeper and deeper into failing grades, causing loss of credit for a class. Having a positive attitude can help a teen develop better planning for the next test, such as adjusting a study schedule to be better prepared, getting tutoring, or discussing grades with the teacher. Instead of just believing that he's doomed and will never pass, a teen with a positive attitude will take action to succeed. If a teen has a negative attitude, it may take serious effort to believe in his abilities again, but it can be done with the right help; being able to visualize success and planning for it is important for teens who want to be successful.

2. Support from others is helpful in reducing stress. Teens who believe they have to do it all themselves often can't do it all by themselves. Support can come from parents and family, friends, teachers, school counselors, members of the clergy, or mental health professionals. Recognizing that help is needed is often a painful first step; friends of teens in trouble are often helpful in getting them to realize that they could benefit from support. Talking about problems with others is therapeutic, and teens can often work out problems if there is a sympathetic ear that listens to them. Teens who are facing serious problems in their lives and don't know what to do can get the help they need by seeking professional support.

3. Maintaining good health is an important step to reducing stress. Teens that live on junk food and eat lots of refined-carb snacks and sugary treats and drinks can benefit from improving their diets to include more nutritious foods. Seeing a doctor for a checkup is a good step for teens that are stressed from having low energy or not feeling well, since conditions such as low iron, thyroid problems, mononucleosis, etc. can cause great stress on the body and mind; teens may not even realize that such medical problems exist. Anytime a teen is severely stressed, physical problems such as insomnia, lack of appetite or overactive appetite, nausea, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, etc. can occur, and seeking medical help can be helpful. Realizing that consumption of caffeine, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco will not help problems is an important step; although many teens turn to these things for temporary relief of problems, they will only add to stress if continued.

4. Physical exercise is a great stress reliever, and although competition can be stressful, playing on teams with others can be a bonding experience and make teens feel the support they need to function well under stress. Teens who participate in regular exercise can get their minds off problems by concentrating on their performances, whether they are participating in walking, jogging, tennis, swimming, yoga, Pilates, or team sports like soccer, football, basketball, or volleyball. Physical exercise allows a teen to vent stress and to also keep the body in good shape, allowing for better health. Most teens who feel well physically have a better attitude and a better self-concept than those who are out-of-shape and sluggish. The typical teen athlete becomes close to coaches and other team members and may receive more support than those who do not participate in physical activities.

5. Helping others is another good way for teens to cope with stress. There are many opportunities in all communities for teens to give service, and this is a good way for teens to develop more self-confidence and to feel better about themselves. Service takes many different forms, and teens can find ways to express themselves and develop interests while relieving stress. Most schools have service clubs, such as Key Club, Interact, Future Nurses, etc. that volunteer help to those in the community. Helping to build a house for Habitat for Humanity, walking dogs for the Humane Society, putting on a skit for the oldsters at the nursing home, or reading to pre-K kids can all be fun and relaxing for teens. Being recognized as a nice, competent person by those helped is also ego-building and makes a teen feel that he can be a support to those less fortunate, whether the feedback is a dog licking his hand or an elderly person saying nice things about her in the grocery store. Often seeing how others deal with more serious problems will allow teens to put their everyday stressors in perspective

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