Stress and other difficult emotions are often thought of as being experienced only by adults. Many believe that the teenage years are a carefree time without responsibility--and while this may have been true at one time, today’s teens have a lot on their plates! From the demands of school to complex family dynamics and trying to find a balance between homework and extracurriculars, plus navigating puberty and maintaining a social life, there are plenty of sources of stress and angst for teenagers. Add in the coronavirus pandemic, the resulting isolation, and the adjustment to the “new normal,” and it’s no wonder the average teenager today has stress levels even higher than adults.
Why Is It Important To Cope With Difficult Emotions?
Whether you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, anger, or any other challenging emotion, it’s essential to have a healthy way to work through it. Many of us are guilty of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms--think binge-watching Netflix, escaping into video games, eating far too many unhealthy snacks, or even turning to alcohol and drugs--but the problem with these unhealthy coping mechanisms is that they don’t get to the root of the issue and aren't effective at helping teens with anxiety. Unless you find a productive way to work through things, it’s likely that your difficult emotions will only become more difficult as time goes on. Luckily, there are many ways to cope with those emotions, such as through online therapy.
Starting The Process Of Using Healthy Coping Skills
So how do you begin the process of replacing your unhealthy habits with positive, productive ones as a teenager? The very first step is just to become more aware of any coping mechanisms you currently use that aren’t really helping you. Maybe as soon as you feel that familiar twinge of anxiety, you grab your phone and start scrolling through social media. Or perhaps you turn to the snack cupboard anytime you feel overwhelmed. You don’t need to shame yourself for turning to these kinds of coping mechanisms--and you shouldn’t. The fact that you’ve developed these ways of coping means you’ve made an effort to handle your difficult feelings in one way or another.
Now, it’s time to take your unhealthy habits and change them into coping mechanisms that will benefit you and improve your mental as well as physical health. When you notice yourself grabbing your smartphone, you could set it down and take a few deep breaths instead, or you could even go outside and take a short walk. Rather than reaching for those sugary snacks, you could opt for fresh fruit or nuts, which have great health benefits and will give you some energy to face the situation at hand.
It’s also important to take a look at your feelings and think about where they’re coming from. If you simply ignore the way you feel, you’re likely to find that the same emotions continue to bubble up to the surface again and again. But if you can determine the root of the issue, you’ll have much more power over those challenging feelings.
If you want to develop healthy coping mechanisms that last long-term, the key is to commit to them and make them a consistent habit. While this might be difficult at first, over time, it should become second nature. Until then, you’ll need to pay close attention to your urges to use unhealthy coping mechanisms and actively choose to use healthy coping skills instead.
Healthy Coping Strategies For Teens
From anxiety coping skills for teens to general teenage coping skills, we’ve created the following list to provide plenty of options for teenagers who want to handle their emotions in a healthy way. Read through the list and see if any of the following options catch your eye. You may even want to make your own list of coping strategies that you can turn to again and again when stress or other unwanted emotions begin to take their toll.
These coping strategies are meant to help you calm down and regain control over your emotions so that you can return to the situation at hand feeling more capable and empowered.
Interacting with others and receiving social support is a great way to deal with difficult emotions.
Positive thinking doesn’t just mean looking at life with a glass-half-full perspective. There are also other ways you can train your brain to focus on the good in life. The below suggestions can, over time, work to naturally encourage you to be more mindful of yourself and life as a whole while facilitating resilience in a variety of situations.
Sometimes, you just need a way to release intense emotions that don't harm yourself or anyone else.
Your lifestyle has a significant impact on your stress levels and ability to handle stress and other emotions. Consider making some changes to your life that will empower you and improve your mental health.
Whether you’re religious or not, spiritual coping skills can provide you with feelings of acceptance and peace.
Having AHard Time Coping?
Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help if you need it, or even if you don’t feel you absolutely need it, but could still benefit from it. If you’re a teen, you can turn to your school counselor for help. In some cases, it may be necessary to speak to your parents so that they can look into getting you (or themselves) a therapist. TeenCounseling is one great alternative to in-person therapy for teens, and it’s affordable and accessible. The exact same services are offered to adults through BetterHelp. You can get the help of a certified therapist from the comfort and privacy of your own home!
“Since covid started my anxiety started skyrocketing again because I wasn't able to leave my house. I've had bad experiences with therapists before and was hesitant to try this at first but then when I had my first meeting with her I knew that things were finally gonna change. She's helped me tremendously with many different coping skills and worksheets to get my mind going. I am so glad Loretta has come into my life!”
Common questions found below:
What are good coping skills for teenagers?
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What are 10 coping skills?
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What are positive coping skills?
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are Emotional Coping Skills?
Emotional coping skills are just as they sound: skills to help you cope with your emotions. Coping skills usually refer to actions or activities that you can turn to in order to manage challenging or unwanted emotions. Using healthy coping skills is a great way to keep stress in check and maintain control over your mental health. Exercise, meditation, and talking with a loved one are all considered healthy coping skills. Making a to-do list, getting at least several hours of exercise per week, cooking, gardening, visualizing your "happy place," and doing breathing exercises are also wonderful examples of healthy coping skills.
Although unhealthy coping mechanisms like avoidance, eating, sleeping, and substance use may seem like an effective "quick fix," they won't help you in the long term. Remember, finding healthy, positive strategies to handle your emotions is crucial to good mental health!
What Are 10 Ways ToCope With Stress?
One of the best things about healthy coping skills is that there are so many of them. No matter your personality or preferences, you're sure to be able to find an effective set of coping skills that can help you cope with stress and other difficult emotions. Here are ten examples:
These coping skills can help you relax and get to a place where you feel more capable of handling the source of your stress.
What Are Some Coping Skills For Teens?
Considering recent research that has shown today's teenagers are just as stressed (or even more stressed) than adults, it's important for teens to find healthy ways to cope with their emotions and healthy ways to feel good. First, it's crucial to realize that your lifestyle has a huge impact on your ability to handle stress and other emotions. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and staying active is a great place to start.
Journaling and self-reflection are great ways to cut back on rumination and stress, as writing things down helps to get them physically, visibly on paper so that the thoughts aren’t just bouncing around in your head, so to speak. Making a to-do list can help you to organize your thoughts and responsibilities, while keeping a gratitude journal can help you think positively. Writing and self-reflection can also help you to appreciate and see the importance of the simple things in life again, like the color of a flower, feeling the sun on your skin, petting your dog or cat, and so on.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to handle stress is to allow yourself a break, regardless of whether you’re a teen or an adult. The key is to not spend your entire break thinking about the things you'll have to do once it's over. Instead, focus on relaxing and allowing yourself to rest your mind for at least a few minutes.
Speaking with a friend or loved one is also an excellent way to handle stress. Even if you don't talk specifically about the things that are bothering you, a conversation with another person can help you put things into perspective. Spending time with a furry friend is also a lovely way to cope with negative emotions.
Finally, there's no shame in getting professional help if you need it. If you feel like your emotions are taking over your life, or if you feel powerless due to your stress levels, a counselor can help you work through your thoughts and feelings. They can encourage you, provide insights and tools, and offer valuable suggestions as far as ways to cope.