Stress is a normal part of everyday life that is primarily seen as an adult problem. However, today’s adolescents report higher stress levels than ever before, making teaching teens effective coping mechanisms a critical need. Managing stress is essential to building resilience, allowing teens to bounce back from challenges. Teens frequently turn to maladaptive behaviors like drinking and drug abuse when they do not have appropriate coping skills. Further, unmanaged stress contributes to anxiety disorders and depression.
At Imagine Nampa, teaching healthy coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills is a core component of our mental health treatment programs for teens aged 12-17. Reach out to our team at 208.203.8574 to learn more about how our various treatment programs can benefit your teen and family.
Why Are Good Coping Mechanisms Important for Teens?
Learning good coping mechanisms is essential to overall well-being. When teens do not have good coping mechanisms, minor everyday stressors can become overwhelming and lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress has negative implications for physical, emotional, and mental health. Teens who learn to rely on maladaptive coping and problem-solving skills are more likely to develop mental health and substance use disorders.
Self-harm, substance abuse, and engaging in risky behaviors are obvious maladaptive coping skills, but there are many others to be aware of, including:
- Catastrophic thinking
Having good coping mechanisms helps teens minimize, tolerate, and handle stressful situations in ways that reduce stress and harm. Because teens’ brains are still developing, the skills they learn during these formative years will have lasting impacts. The right coping skill depends on the situation and current needs, so it is critical to have various skills to draw on.
Good Coping Mechanisms for Depression
Depression impacts millions of teens and can drain their energy, hope, motivation, self-esteem, and self-worth. While recovery from depression is not quick or easy, it is possible. Luckily, mental health awareness initiatives have significantly reduced the stigma of mental health issues among the younger generations.
Good coping mechanisms for depression include:
- Doing things you enjoy– Keep a list of things you can do during stressful times, such as watching a show or movie, playing with a pet, listening to music, cooking, or creating something.
- Staying connected – Isolation increases depression symptoms. Participating in activities with others, support groups, volunteering, therapy, and scheduling face-to-face time with friends or family can combat isolation.
- Eating well and exercising – Physical health significantly impacts mental health. Teens should avoid highly processed food, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly, producing endorphins that improve mood.
- Getting outside – Vitamin D from sunshine encourages the production and release of serotonin, which helps combat symptoms of depression.
- Challenging your thinking – Jumping to conclusions, focusing on the negative, overgeneralizing, and having all-or-nothing thinking fuel depression. Teens need to learn to challenge negative thinking.
Parents can help teens by modeling good coping mechanisms and talking about times they have found it hard to cope and how they managed it.
Good Coping Mechanisms for Anxiety
Anxiety is a natural response to a stressful situation. Anxiety is beneficial when it keeps teens alert in a dangerous situation or pushes them to perform better. However, anxiety must be addressed when it is persistent, excessive, unwarranted, or interferes with daily functioning. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder among teens but is highly treatable.
Good coping mechanisms for anxiety can include:
- Breathing exercises – Focusing on breathing takes your mind off the anxious thought and slows your heart rate and breathing, helping you reduce anxiety.
- Journaling – Writing out thoughts and feelings make them less unsettling, removes their negative power, and helps clear your mind.
- Meditation – Mindfulness helps you learn to be aware of what you are feeling in the moment, without judgment or interpretation.
- Cutting back on social media – Teens are incredibly influenced by what they see on social media, which has been shown to contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Yoga – Practicing yoga creates a connection between the body and mind, promotes inner balance, and helps calm the mind.
Teens are under a lot of pressure to perform socially, academically, and in extracurricular activities such as sports. They need to understand that it is okay to take a break, especially when an activity is causing them duress. Taking a break can help them refocus and challenge negative thinking.
Learn More About Good Coping Mechanisms at Imagine Nampa
Having a range of good coping mechanisms helps improve teens’ ability to manage their mental health in healthy ways. The expert treatment team members at Imagine Nampa are skilled in teaching and reinforcing healthy coping skills through our treatment programs for teens aged 12-17. Call us at 208.203.8574 to learn more.