Five Simple Activities to Help Relieve Teen Stress

It's natural for teenagers (and the rest of us) to feel anxious and stressed --from time to time. If your teenager is feeling stressed out, here are some simple activities you can try at home together to help them feel calmer

Teenagers face a wide range of stresses, from the big stuff like exams and relationships, to everyday niggles such as homework, changes in their bodies, and what their latest crush posted on Instagram.

While it's normal and natural to feel stressed-out from time to time, it's important to recognise the signs of stress in your teenager, so you know when to step in to see if you can help. Some of the most notable signs of stress include:

  • Tiredness with little or no energy
  • Often teary
  • Acting angry
  • Being more irritable than usual
  • Withdrawing from people
  • No interest in activities
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Overly worried about "small" things
  • Changes in eating patterns (too much or not enough)
  • Complaining of headaches/tummy aches
  • Substance abuse

A lot of these signs might feel like normal teenage behaviour, but if you notice a change in how your teen is acting, or if they're suddenly displaying several of these signs, then it might be time to step in to help them manage their feelings.

These simple but effective activities can not only keep your teen's mind occupied but help provide mindfulness tools they can use daily whenever they're feeling stressed. They can also provide some positive family experiences, which is a lovely added bonus. 

  1. Movement

Regular exercise has multiple benefits, not least of which is the release of endorphins and improved sleep, which help with mental wellbeing and decreased stress and anxiety.

Exercising together as a family also provides a great forum for teamwork and fun. Suggest a jog together, walk or even some goal-kicking or shooting practice. If your teen doesn't fancy leaving the house. Offer to have a kick-about in the garden or try your hand at some yoga or an online HIIT class. There are loads of videos on YouTube you can try out.

  1. Outdoor Time

Creating a relationship with nature has multiple benefits. It whisks us away from our immediate cares and responsibilities and encourages us to slow down and appreciate the unique beauty of the scents, colours, and textures of the world around us. Even if it's only for ten minutes in the garden or during a walk in a park, encourage your teen to spend a bit of time each day outside if they can. Just taking a few deep breaths in the sunshine can have a major impact on their mood. If they're stressed about homework or exams, offer to read with them on a blanket in the garden, with some snacks and drinks. A change of scenery can make all the difference and might make the work easier to digest.

  1. Meditation and Guided Relaxation

Relaxing and controlling breath, body, and mind is something that teenagers can learn and harness to gain control in stressful situations. Meditation and relaxation can not only bring calm to their routine but it can also encourage mindfulness. The benefits gained from short meditation exercises can carry over into multiple areas of their life as they encounter other stressful situations in the future, but there's no time like the present. 

  • Start with simple techniques at bedtime: while lying flat on your backs, talk your child through a guided relaxation sequence. Start at the top of the body and instruct your child to tighten and release the muscles in the face and head, then move onto the neck and shoulders, working all the way through to the feet and toes. Afterwards, spend a few minutes in quiet stillness. At first only a few minutes may be possible, but the time may increase with repeated sessions. To move beyond this, try some mindfulness apps together and see which ones you prefer. There are plenty targeted at teen users - from Headspace to Smiling Mind, Mindshift and
  1. Yoga

The combination of movement, strength building, stretching, and a focus on breath, makes yoga a terrific stress reliever for teens and the entire family. Of course, it helps to build flexibility, coordination, and body awareness, but it also creates a sense of calm and relaxation that extends beyond the experience. When using yoga as a stress management tool, keep in mind that the objective is not a lengthy power yoga session, but a simple, achievable session for all family members. Again, there are multiple apps and YouTube videos that can help with this. 

  1. Writing and Drawing 

Depending on where your teen's interests lie, they might find it useful to write a journal to offload all their thoughts and worries or they may prefer drawing. This could be their own creations or grown-up colouring in and dot-to-dot books, or learning to draw apps or even 'extreme doodling' which is a fabulous rebrand of colouring-in to target teens and can be a great way to get them absorbed in the creative zone and help decompress. 

Though it may seem next to impossible some days, try to (gently) encourage your teenager to participate in at least one or two activities you all enjoy each day. If you do them together, it might also help your teen to open up and talk to you about what they're feeling.


External Resources

If you are concerned about your teenager and would like some support and guidance, you can use our Speak to An Expert service, or try these helpful resources:

NHS - Mental Health Advice for Teenagers

Young Minds - Mental Health Support and Advice