This article was co-written by Amber Williams and Shannon Traurig, former CPTC research assistants.
Stress Management for Teens: Conserve Energy
We must learn to manage sources of stress in our lives. And we need to learn how to do it starting when we are tweens, teens, and young adults. The Center for Parent and Teen Communication has created a stress management plan that offers specific strategies to try on your own or with family and friends. Because everyone needs some help now and then. Other strategies that focus on dealing with problems can be read by clicking on the below links:
- Identify and then tackle the problem (including how to break down problems into manageable steps)
- Avoid obstacles whenever wise and possible
This piece of the stress management plan focuses on conserving our energy so we can efficiently tackle challenges.
Learn What Can and Can’t Be Fixed
Not every problem is worth attacking. Some problems may be upsetting but ultimately don’t really matter. Other problems may be annoying, but we are powerless to change them — for example, if bad weather forces a game to be canceled. To conserve energy for the things that can be handled, we need to learn to let go of problems we can’t fix.
On some level, this advice contradicts the idea of “optimism.” We’re supposed to see the glass as half-full, right? Optimism is that high-energy belief that if we put our heart and mind into something we’ll succeed. The problem is that it may not always be true. There are some things that simply can’t be changed. We run the risk of wasting precious energy and time if we don’t understand that.
We should learn to see the glass as it is. If it is filled half way, ask yourself if that’s good enough. If not, believe in your ability to find a solution and focus on the best course of action. In this simple case, find a faucet. But in those cases where a solution can’t be found, focus your energy on the part of the problem you can fix. Let go of the frustration about what can’t be solved, or you’ll be needlessly drained of energy.
People who focus on things they can change gain a sense of control. Sharpened focus is a critical step to problem-solving. It allows you to gather your resources and spend your energy addressing challenges that are within your control.
For example, we all want others to like us. However, sometimes in a struggle to fit in, we hide the parts of ourselves that are unique and amazing. Trying to fit in with others that do not accept us can stress us out. It may be hard to confront the larger issue — we can’t force people to like us. But we can be true to ourselves. We can do things that we find fulfilling. We can prove to ourselves that we are worthy. And we can focus energy on ourselves and friends who like us for who we really are.
Learn From Others
It’s always good to reach out to others when you confront obstacles. It also may be helpful to watch your parents and other trusted adults to see how they effectively manage their stress. Who knows, you may even teach your parents new strategies when they need a bit of support!
Sometimes when you encounter stress, you may be able to effectively problem solve. Other times, things will remain out of your control and you should choose to move on. We all must learn what we can and can’t fix. Learn to conserve your energy for situations you can control. This will help you better manage the experiences as they happen. This will allow you to be wiser, healthier and better protected for your future.