10 ways to help teens deal with stress and anxiety

The numbers aren’t good when it comes to Gen Z and mental health.

According to the American Psychological Association, by 2022, 90% of Gen Z — which the U.S. Census classifies as people born between 1997 and 2013 — had experienced psychological or physical symptoms due to stress within a one-year period.

Much of Gen Z are current teens, who often struggle with mental health issues, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

It will be a major talking point for teens on Thursday, World Teen Mental Health Day.

So, how can teens and their parents help cope with stress and anxiety?

Here are 10 tips to cope, according to Raisingteenstoday.com.

1. Talk about problems

Instead of bottling up feelings inside, communicating and talking about any problems can help prevent depression, according to a study from the University of Rochester. Talking out issues can help teens identify and manage their feelings.

2. Take a break

When activities like school or sports become too much, it can sometimes help to miss a day to recharge.

3. Don’t be afraid to lower expectations sometimes

This is not meant to stop teens from being their best at all times. Instead, if societal pressures can become overwhelming, realize that a student doesn’t have to have a 4.0 average or be the star player to be successful in life.

4. Identify triggers

This can be done by writing down anything in life that can cause stress, anxiety or depression, such as homework or problems with friends. Identifying those triggers can go a long way toward managing emotions.

5. Look at stressors methodically

Even if problems in a teen’s life can’t be solved completely, they can be managed. Turning off a phone to avoid distractions, breaking up unhealthy or toxic friendships, or cutting back on commitments to free up more time to decompress are some strategies.

6. Realize that sleep is an ally

A lack of sleep can lead not only to irritability, but also to depression, anxiety and exhaustion.

7. Exercise and eat well

Not eating the right foods can lead to a deficiency of certain vitamins, which in turn can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, and loss of interest in activities. Smoking, vaping, and consuming too much caffeine can also exacerbate anxiety. Regular exercise releases endorphins and brain chemicals that can aid one’s well-being.

8. Develop positive self-talk skills

Rather than allowing negative thoughts to make someone miserable, talking more positively and encouraging oneself more can have a big impact on coping with stress or anxiety.

9. Use relaxation and mindfulness techniques

Doing things like deep breathing, stretching, visualizing a calmer place, meditating, or writing down feelings can help to calm down and reduce stress or anxiety and get back on track.

10. Do activities that bring happiness

This can help bring peace, comfort, and joy to anyone struggling with mental health, especially a teenager.

A few examples are:

  • Go for a walk, bike ride or run, alone or with a friend

  • Listen to music that brings happiness

  • Watch TV or a funny movie, or listen to an uplifting podcast

  • Call or Facetime a supportive friend

  • Hanging out with friends

  • Dive into a great book

  • Take a day or weekend vacation

  • Make a gratitude list

  • Do something nice for someone else

  • Go to the gym and turn on the music

  • Get out into nature

  • Spend time with your favorite pet

  • Treat yourself by taking a long bath, getting a manicure, pedicure or massage.

10 ways to help teens deal with stress and anxiety

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