There are many significant tools that parents teach their children. Parents might teach their teens how to study, the love of learning, how to keep organized, or how to manage their time well.
However, some teens don’t ever get the opportunity to learn how to manage their inner life. They might learn the importance of balancing their home, school, and even work responsibilities, but they might not ever learn how to manage their stress, their feelings, or intense emotions which can sometimes get in the way of concentrating. Even worse, sometimes stress builds up or emotions become so intense that it can get in the way of functioning.
Teens, and all young adults, need to learn how to manage stress and the inner experiences that happen as a reaction to life. In other words they need to learn how to cope. To cope means the ability to deal effectively with something difficult. Certainly, during adolescence life can be challenging. Teens are reaching for their independence, their uniqueness, and the role they will play in life. Plus, they are doing this in the midst of other confused teenagers, family conflicts, and the lingering need to hang onto their childhood. Not to mention they must face the presence of drugs, the pressure of new romantic relationships, and maintaining good grades!
In fact, a recent study found that having healthy coping mechanisms was a primary factor in a teen’s satisfaction with life. The following is a list of 5 top coping mechanisms for a teen to know and use. Having known ways of accessing support is important when anger, frustration, or stress levels are high.
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.
Have a chosen adult you trust to confide in from time to time. Although this isn’t usually the first choice for a teen, sometimes talking to an adult is a better option than talking to another teenager. Yes, friends can be incredibly supportive, but an adult who has already lived through the challenges of adolescence and has some years of reflection might have some useful guidance on what to do.
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 coping mechanisms are excellent tools for managing the stresses of life, not only during adolescence but later during adulthood as well.