As an adolescent, there’s no question that you have a lot going on. Although you might not be thinking about this all the time: you’ve got physical, emotional, and psychological changes happening. And you also have the pressures of your parents, teachers, and peers. You’re trying to fit in, gain your independence, discover who you are, and find your place in the world. Add to this the pressures of the season, and you might be feeling anxious, tense, or stressed.
In school, you might have papers to write and end of the year exams to study for. At home, you might be feeling pressure from your siblings or parents. And among friends, you might feel those uncomfortable social moments that can have an effect on your friendships. Whatever it is that’s adding to your stress, here are some suggestions for managing stress during the holidays to stay light, happy, and tension free.
Exercise. A recent study (October 2014) found that exercise not only helps in the treatment of teen depression and anxiety, it can actually prevent it. Exercise is so essential in one’s overall health that it should be up there with the need to eat. If you’re feeling stressed, angry, frustrated, or anxious, go for a run or walk, and see how you feel afterwards.
Breathe. Sometimes, when you’re at school or work or even at home, you might have an incredibly stressful moment. It might feel as though every part of you is being pulled in a different direction and you don’t know yourself anymore. Your parents, teachers, and friends each want a different part of you. When you feel stressful pressure, intense frustration, or even anger at life itself, you might need to take five minutes for yourself and breathe. It might sound cliché or lame or too new age for you, but before you judge it, try it for yourself and see how you feel afterwards.
Have a belief in a higher power. This might not work for all teens, especially those whose families are not religious or spiritual. However, a higher power doesn’t have to be what you think. You don’t have to believe in a God necessarily, or even any particular kind of God to receive the benefits of having a higher power. For instance, surfers might see the ocean as their higher power, writers might see nature as their higher power, and hippies might use love as their higher power. Whichever form of higher power you use, you can always go to it to get the support you need when stress is high.
Have a meditation or yoga practice. Mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It can be done through a practice of meditation, which is essentially a practice of training the mind to stay present. In the same way, a yoga practice is a series of postures that can keep you present by staying connected to the breath and the body. Essentially, any practice that keeps the mind relaxed can be a great tool for times of stress.
These are some suggestions for staying stress-free during the holidays. However, you’ll notice that these can be practiced all year round! In fact, these tools might be particularly useful for a teen who tends to feel depressed or anxious throughout the year.
However, if you’re feeling excessively anxious this holiday season or any time of the year, contact a mental health professional for support!