Stress Management Tips

By: Gabriela Silva

1. List/Name Losses and Gratitude

  • Give space for teens to name the things they are frustrated, angry, and scared about because they are real, they’ve just gone through so much change in a very short time
  • Create an opportunity for them to acknowledge new/different blessings in this new reality
  • Tips from Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) blog post

2. Identify Stress vs. Anxiety

  • Stress – reaction to environment
  • Anxiety – excessive and constant worry, irritability, low energy, and concentration
  • Managing stress can help teens avoid reaching anxiety
  • Tips on stress and anxiety on the FYI blog here
  • If you are worried your teen is having serious anxiety, contact a professional

3. For Parents Who Still Have to Work

  • Lean into community (with caution): In a time of social distancing, parents who still need to work and especially single parents cannot do this alone
  • For working parents, find trustworthy adults who may be willing to watch your children. There is a risk here, so do it with caution and only if there are no alternatives. If taking your teen to a classmate’s house while you work is not an option, find adults/mentors who can skype/facetime to check in on how they are doing while home
  • For single parents: This is probably your worst nightmare. For a group that may already have challenges in having to navigate work-life balance on your own, the feelings of isolation may be heightened during these times
    • How can other families, youth workers, step in to fill in the gap while staying safe?
    • Social distancing should really be called physical distancing, because people still need social support during these times

4. Stay Connected

  • Mentors – for teens in toxic households, do they have a mentor, youth leader they can stay connected to? Who can advocate for them? (Physical distancing does not mean disengaging from those who make us feel safe)
    • Check on them emotionally, physically, spiritually
    • Drop off groceries
    • Ask parents what their most pressing need is and see how it can be met
  • If you know a teen is in a troublesome home and are concerned for their safety, check in regularly, and if necessary, report
  • Practicing Safety/Empathy
    • Helping teens understand that though they are young and healthy, their health and safety impacts the health and safety of others at this time
    • This is the time to teach them empathy, perspective-taking, and helping them understand it is not just about them (good luck, parents!) Teens are developing a sense of self and identity at this time, perspective-taking and empathy are not their strong suit. This may be a challenging yet opportune time to teach them these skills and build their resilience
    • Child Mind Institute has great resources. Find them here & here

5. Engage in Breathing Exercises

  • Help them make it a practice to BREATHE: The goal of this practice is to get them to exhale for longer than they inhale. This helps slow down the nervous system and gets heart rate down. (Great for teens and adults)
    • Taking a deep, slow breath through the nose while counting to four, releasing through the mouth while counting to eight
  • Butterfly or Monkey Hugs: The goal of this practice is to bring calm to the body through bilateral stimulation. This was actually developed by a therapist for mass trauma for a community in Mexico after it was hit by a hurricane, find the resource here and watch video here
  • Humming: Humming a happy, soothing tune can help calm the nervous system and lower heart rate

6. Routine, Self-Care Prevents Burn-out

About the Author:

Gabriella Silva is a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary. Gabriella was born in Brazil but grew up in South Florida where she obtained a B.S. in psychology with a concentration in Biblical Studies from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Now in the second year of her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, she works with children and adolescents in the Los Angeles area as a student-clinician and as a research assistant for the Fuller Youth Institute. Gabriella’s research interests include attachment theory, trauma, and the role of faith in youth development.

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