Being a teen can be stressful. It’s easy for adults to forget, as they’re dealing with adult problems and stressors, that the teenage years can feel much more difficult than they look to be from the outside. While you may envy your teen not having to worry about a mortgage or having to work every day, it’s important to remember that teens have a lot going on. They’re dealing with complex social dynamics, they’re at a time in their lives when their bodies are changing rapidly, and they’re starting to contemplate the future and make decisions that will affect the course of their adult lives. That’s a lot of pressure. Like everyone else, teenagers need to be able to relax and unwind from the stress and excitement of daily life, but they may not have developed the skills for doing so. Take a look at some relaxation skills that teens can easily learn and benefit from.
1. Breathing Deeply Is a Component of Relaxation Skills
Deep breathing is a component of several types of relaxation skills and techniques, including yoga and meditation. However, breathing deeply can also help you relax all on its own. Not only that, deep breathing is accessible to teens no matter where they happen to be. There’s no need for any special clothing, no accessories are required, and they don’t need to be in any one particular place.
The accessibility of deep breathing is important because it means that teens can use this technique to de-stress in the classroom before a test or when they’re out on a date. They don’t need to wait until they get home or finish whatever else it is that they’re doing at the moment – they can just relieve some of their stress whenever it’s necessary.
When your teen is anxious or nervous, they may notice that they begin taking quick, shallow breaths. This speeds up the heart rate, which contributes to the stress response. This is the time when your teen needs to bring their stress level down quickly. They should focus on inhaling slowly through their nose, holding the breath for a few seconds, then exhaling slowly through their mouth. Then they should repeat the sequence for several minutes, focusing only on their breathing. This helps bring the heart rate back to normal and can help your teen relax and go on with their day more calmly.
For some teens, exercising doesn’t sound very relaxing. Nevertheless, getting up and moving is another component to relaxation skills that can really help your teen reduce their stress levels. There are a couple of reasons for this. Teens may feel stressed after sitting still all day in school because they have too much energy that they haven’t been using. Exercising can help burn off that extra energy, leaving your teen feeling less edgy and anxious.
What’s more, exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins to the brain. This means that after exercising, your teen will feel happier and calmer than they were before. Endorphins can even help relieve pain. And speaking of pain, it’s important to note that regular exercise improves overall health. It’s hard to feel happy and relaxed when you’re ill, injured, or in pain. Regular exercise helps to ensure that your teen has better health, which means fewer illnesses, injuries, and aches.
Exercise doesn’t need to look the same for every person. Encourage your teen to get physical doing something they enjoy. Where one teen might gravitate toward team sports, another might prefer a solo activity, like jogging, or a non-competitive activity, like a yoga or dance class. Some teens might prefer to get their exercise in the pool, while another would rather ride horses, skateboard, or go mall walking. The important thing is that they find a physical activity that they enjoy.
3. Talking Honestly and Openly
Sometimes relaxing is just a question of calming momentary anxieties or burning off extra energy. However, some problems can’t be solved by slow breathing or fast running. During the teenage years, adolescents deal with a lot of serious issues – peer pressure, academic challenges, identity questions, and more. If there’s an issue weighing heavily on your teen’s mind, it’s going to cause stress. An open and honest conversation can do a surprising amount of work to relieve that stress.
Sometimes a conversation can be what your teen needs to solve a problem. For example, if your teen is worried because they’re struggling in one of their classes, a conversation with their teacher could lead to a study plan that will help them catch up, or a conversation with their guidance counselor could lead to the teen dropping the class and picking up one they’re better suited for. Either way, talking it out could help the teen make a plan to solve the problem, which should reduce their stress.
Other problems aren’t so easily resolved with a conversation. When teens see school shootings on the news, for instance, they may become stressed or anxious about the possibility that a similar tragedy could happen at their school. Active shooter drills and lockdowns are meant to help prepare students and faculty for such an event, but these precautions often add to the stress teens feel rather than reducing it. Unfortunately, there’s no way that a teen can guarantee that they will never be a victim of gun violence. But talking about their fears can help them process their feelings and reduce their anxiety around the subject.
As a parent, you most likely want your teen to talk to you when they’re feeling stressed out or anxious. But it’s important to recognize that your teen needs more than just you. Ideally, your teen should have a few adults they trust and can confide in. Teachers, counselors, relatives, family friends, and therapists are all possible options. Your teen should be able to come to you with their problems, but it’s also your job to make sure that your teen has other adults in their life who they can also confide in when they need advice, guidance, or just a friendly listening ear. That way, your teen doesn’t have to dwell on their worries or solve all their problems on their own. Talking things out with a trusted adult can be a healthy way for teens to de-stress and relax.