How Parents Can Help Teens Destress
There is more pressure than ever on teens today between academics, after-school activities, sports, and social media. It is essential that teens learn to unplug, relax, and reset for both their physical and mental health.
As parents know from their own busy and over-scheduled lives, simply acknowledging that you need time to rest and destress is not enough. Parents need to actively encourage teens to take a break to not only help them get through this time period that is often much too stressful, but also to help them acquire tools to take care of their social and emotional health for their entire lives.
Why is it important to encourage teens to take a break at least once a week?
Teens today have almost no down time. They might appear to be taking some down time as they scroll through their phone or binge on Netflix, but this particular kind of relaxation does not allow them an opportunity to experience quiet or sit with their own thoughts. Zoning out in front of a screen cannot be avoided. We all do it, and it has its purpose. That said, parents need to make sure teens get in some healthy relaxation time too.
Taking a break in a way that does not include stimulation is key for teens to truly destress. If the only way that teens learn how to relax or deal with difficult times is to fill their heads with others’ pictures, views, thoughts, and opinions, they will never learn the essential skill of listening to and managing their own inner voice.
As psychotherapist, Lynn Lyons, explains regarding the challenges of teenage years:
“Adolescence is often the time when longer term issues with anxiety and worry become more intense and isolating. The challenges of social life and increased academic pressures push kids toward brand new experiences and responsibilities, along with the shadow side of hesitation and insecurity.
Specific learning difficulties can surface as students take on more complicated tasks or have to speak up in class. Sports become more demanding, and hormones can wreak havoc with appearance. Whether social, intellectual or physical, anything can serve as a source of worry.”
Fortunately, there are many ways that parents can encourage their children to take a break at least once a week.
5 ways parents can encourage their children to take a real break:
1. Take family walks
Walking does both the body and mind a lot of good. It can be a kind of meditative exercise, and it’s a chance to get out in nature which is always healing. Walking side by side is also a great way for your teen to open up to you about what’s on her mind.
2. Sign your teen and yourself up for a weekly yoga class
Yoga is a perfect way to get out of the head and into the body. Having this time scheduled for the two of you can give you both a chance to unwind.
3. Encourage your teen to try meditation
Sitting in silence for just a few minutes and focusing on your breath can be one of the most efficient and rejuvenating activities your teen can possibly do. If a couple of minutes of silence is too challenging at first, Insight Timer is an excellent free guided meditation app. Working with your teen to set up a little corner of her room or a small space in the house that is conducive to meditation can be helpful.
4. Schedule one night per week for the family to use no screens and no technology
Even if you can make this happen for a couple of hours, it will be an opportunity for your teen to tap into more healthy ways to pass her time. Reading, drawing, catching up on sleep, or playing cards with the rest of the family can help her relax on a different level.
5. Remove technology from the bedroom at bedtime
Even the presence of technology in the bedroom can be distracting - whether it’s being used or not. Teens can never truly relax with the impulses to check her phone constantly flowing. Removing the blue light from tech screens also leads to a much better night’s sleep. Restful sleep is beyond necessary for teens, and it is the purest form of true rest and relaxation.
Today’s teens are dealing with constant stimulation and stress. Helping your teen take real breaks is one of the best gifts you can give her. Having the time, permission, and encouragement to rest goes a long way, and it’s a tool that your teen can carry throughout life. Being able to slow down is a life skill that too often goes untaught in today’s day and age.
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Looking for other ways to connect with your teen? Check out 5 Ways to Bond With Your Teen Before College.
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