Misguided emotional coping is common among teens. Many turn to unhealthy fixes, such as overeating, to deal with everyday problems. For instance, binge eating is a prevalent unhealthy coping mechanism among teenagers. Approximately 1.6% of American adolescents suffer from binge eating disorder. One of the largest contributors to the development of this disorder is difficulty coping with feelings.
The problem is clear: parents and other trusted adults, such as teachers, do not teach teenagers how to cope with their emotions until it’s too late. When we learnt stress management in 10th grade health class, we were already two years into highschool. Habits that developed earlier continue to solidify. For example, if a student had already begun to smoke to handle stress, he will most likely continue to smoke even when introduced to new, healthy coping methods.
This creates a nearly inescapable cycle of addiction, one that oftentimes follows teens into their adult lives. However, there is a way to prevent this from happening.
By teaching children healthy coping mechanisms at an early age, they can avoid using unhealthy coping mechanisms in the future. Using the following tips can help teens manage their emotions before they become a recurrent issue.
Anxiety and stress:
- Practice breathing exercises and meditation
- Eat balanced meals and get at least 8 eights of sleep every night
- Schedule time for pleasurable activities like reading, watching a television show, etc.
- Learn to accept that stress is inevitable, but manageable
- Before acting out of aggression or frustration, take deep, calming breaths and wait until you can act rationally
- Express yourself by using “I” statements to avoid blaming others
- Don’t hold grudges; allow yourself to forgive, even if it takes time
- Exercise to reduce the stress that causes anger
- Eat well and exercise regularly; a healthy lifestyle has been medically linked to improvements in mental health
- Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal
- Learn relaxation techniques like guided imagery
- Keep in contact with those you love and trust, even if you don’t want to
There are countless coping skills that you can learn to help you manage your emotions. If something doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Find a new method and try again. Managing emotions in a healthy, practical manner is possible. All it takes is a start.