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Teen Stress

Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 20, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

By Lisa Damour

Though anxiety has risen among young people overall, studies confirm that it has skyrocketed in girls. Research finds that the number of girls who said that they often felt nervous, worried, or fearful jumped 55 percent from 2009 to 2014, while the comparable number for adolescent boys has remained unchanged. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with girls, Lisa Damour, Ph.D., has witnessed this rising tide of stress and anxiety in her own research, in private practice, and in the all-girls’ school where she consults. She knew this had to be the topic of her new book.

In the engaging, anecdotal style and reassuring tone that won over thousands of readers of her first book, Untangled, Damour starts by addressing the facts about psychological pressure. She explains the surprising and underappreciated value of stress and anxiety: that stress can helpfully stretch us beyond our comfort zones, and anxiety can play a key role in keeping girls safe. When we emphasize the benefits of stress and anxiety, we can help our daughters take them in stride.

But no parents want their daughter to suffer from emotional overload, so Damour then turns to the many facets of girls’ lives where tension takes hold: their interactions at home, pressures at school, social anxiety among other girls and among boys, and their lives online. As readers move through the layers of girls’ lives, they’ll learn about the critical steps that adults can take to shield their daughters from the toxic pressures to which our culture—including we, as parents—subjects girls.

Readers who know Damour from Untangled or the New York Times, or from her regular appearances on CBS News, will be drawn to this important new contribution to understanding and supporting today’s girls.

Order this bestselling book, Under Pressure on Amazon today.

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Teen Stress: Ways to Promote Healthy Mindset

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 25, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Teen Depression, Teen Help

Reduce Stress and Promote Healthy Mindsets: 3 Self-Care Tips for Your Teen

Stress does not discriminate, and it certainly knows no age limits. In fact, data collected by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that stress is significantly common among teenagers and actually “rivals that of adults.”

Teenagers are confronted with demands or expectations to perform well in school and make important decisions about their future, all while combating peer pressure and even cyberbullying, which is a frequent occurrence in the age of social media in which they grew up.

To have some degree of stress in life is normal, but if stress intensifies for extended periods of time, it can cause both emotional and physical ramifications that can affect teenagers’ mental health. The APA also reported that many teens (30%) who suffer from stress reported feeling depressed. Among other things, chronic stress can also cause anxiety and other negative thoughts and behaviors.

“To break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health-care professionals,” says APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D.

Parents can play a significant role as support systems by acquainting their teenagers with self-care strategies that will help them manage stress and address possible mental health conditions. These three self-care ideas can help teenagers deal with life’s everyday demands in a more enlightening and  productive way:

  1. Start the conversation. Begin showing your teen support by addressing one of the most concerning aspects of stress: the development of a possible mental health disorder. Mental illness is so often poorly understood, which can add to the challenge of living with such a condition and actually affects how one handles stress. It can be difficult for many teenagers to talk to their parents, let alone about mental health. But the reality is that there are variations of mental health resources like podcasts, comics, blog posts and discussion guides that provide a great understanding of conditions in a relatable and intriguing manner, making the subject of mental health much more comfortable.
  1. Be prepared with “on-the-go” techniques. During high-stress situations, the body may respond physically through increased heart rate, quickened breathing, muscle tightening, and elevated blood pressure. To regulate the nervous system and bring calmness to the forefront of focus, it can be particularly helpful to know a few calming or grounding techniques. Be that as it may, it might not always be possible to remove oneself from an environment when physical symptoms arise, especially teenagers who may be in in the middle of a class, for instance. Thus, it’s even more important to find exercises for your teen that can be done anywhere. Breathing exercises are beneficial for achieving quick and discrete relaxation from stress and anxiety.
  1. Hobbies can be an overlooked tool. It’s no shocking revelation that teenagers are busy, but it seems as though any and all of their free time is placed in front of a screen these days. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, or texting, so much of their extra time to unwind is occupied by mindlessly looking at a screen. Instead, introduce your teen to a new hobby or even engage in one together. Hobbies can still be relaxing and are great for the body’s overall well-being, particularly in developing teenagers. Regularly participating in a hobby can provide structure that in turn can translate into good time management skills, ultimately decreasing stress. Personal connections and improved social skills can also be an added bonus of taking up a hobby because you never know who your teenager might have something in common with. Whether it’s a sports league, book club, rock band, or an art club, your teenager will be actively engaged in a mindful activity (and off their phones) which is important for both their physical and mental well-being.

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How to Help Your Teen Cope With Stress During the School Year

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 06, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

When summer ends and the school year begins, you can practically hear a symphony of teenagers simultaneously groaning. Who can blame them though? They need to wake up during the early hours of the morning, study for exams, complete homework for several different classes, balance extracurricular activities, maintain a social life – and in the midst of all of that, take care of themselves. That’s a lot on a young person’s plate! As a parent, you can expect them to be incredibly stressed out at having to manage everything all at once. Teens have a heavy amount of stress because not only do their high school years prepare them for college; they also begin to develop their individuality, learn how to be responsible, and get a taste of adulthood.

To help your teen have a more productive semester and reduce their academic anxiety, here’s how you can help them cope with stress during the school year:

Encourage them to focus on their well-being, first and foremost

Believe it or not, simple self-care methods such as taking showers, self-grooming, and relaxing can pushed aside in exchange for dedicating more time to school work. However, one never feels their best when they don’t take care of themselves! While your teen’s ambition is admirable, they should always consider the state of their emotional and physical well-being. Your teen should also always make time for hobbies and passions that make them happy as well. School work may take up most of their time, but they need to remember their personal needs and happiness is just as important.

Inform them of healthy coping mechanisms 

There’s a huge difference between dealing with stress in a healthy way versus an unhealthy way. Unhealthy coping mechanisms cause more stress and do more damage. Examples include suppressing emotions, purposely hurting others, self-harm and so forth. In the long run, unhealthy coping mechanisms can lead to your child developing depression, anxiety, and even an addiction to substances later on life. Factually, 1 in 8 Americans are alcoholics, and your teen does not need to be a part of that statistic, nor endure mental conditions that can be avoided. To prevent that, and many other unfortunate circumstances, inform and educate them on how to properly handle their stress with healthy coping mechanisms such as journal writing, articulating feelings to a trusted individual such as you or a friend, and meditation.

Help them establish a set schedule

With so many obligations that need to be fulfilled, your teen will get overwhelmed on where to focus most of their attention. Have them sit down to schedule a wake-up and sleep time, set aside specific parts of the day for studying, and adhere to it. However, they can be flexible on the weekends for friends and personal time. Fun is needed too! By following a schedule, your teen will be able to handle their responsibilities and live their life in an organized matter, rather than feeling lost or frazzled with what to do first.

Go grocery shopping for healthy food and meal prep 

A healthy and well-rounded diet affects a person just as much emotionally as it does physically. When overwhelmed with an endless list of things to do, it’s normal for a teen to eat whatever is available and neglect their diet. Educate your teen about healthier food choices, teach them to cook, and encourage them to prepare their meals ahead of time. If they meal prep healthy food, they never have to worry about spontaneous fast food purchases or unhealthy cravings! Over time, your teen will also naturally gravitate towards healthy food in general.

Encourage your teen to exercise

With stress taking a toll on both a mental and physical well-being, teens need a therapeutic outlet to release it! Exercise is one of the best methods of stress relief due to its ability to pump endorphins – nature’s pain-killing chemicals – throughout their body. Additionally, exercise helps stabilize their mood, improves overall brain function, and keeps them feeling energized and ready to take on the day. Regardless of the exercise they choose to do, such as weight training versus yoga, all exercises will contribute the same positive benefits. If your teen is up for it, suggest taking up an exercise together!

Tell them to take a break

When your teen needs a break from vigorously studying, offer to take them outside for some fresh air or remind them that it won’t hurt to relax for a few minutes. Despite sounding counter-intuitive, taking a break is actually more beneficial than harmful. The more your teen forces themselves to work, the less productive they become. With overexertion, they lose the ability to focus on tasks, become easily irritable, and rarely sleep. Some examples of breaks include spending fifteen minutes on the couch doing what they please, meditating, and even catching up with you about what’s been going on in their lives. By stepping back from the required readings and math notes, teens seize this moment to replenish their energy to study efficiently, absorb information, and demonstrate what they have learned onto their exams.

Remind them that stress is a part of life, and they will get through it just like everything else

Stress is inevitable. Truthfully, at times, it feels like it lasts forever – but that is never the case. Remind your teen that stress is always going to be a part of life, but they don’t need to fear it. What really matters is taking of themselves and always doing the best they can to succeed.

Contributor: Trevor McDonald

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