Teens and Stress
A few weeks ago I was a guest speaker at a psychology class a local high school. I spoke about the science of the mind and hypnosis. I forgot how much I loved teaching teenagers! As a former health educator, I appreciate their energy and curiosity. Teenagers have a unique kind of stress. It is different than the stress adult’s experience, I believe, because adults have more control over their lives, decisions and choices. Teenagers are at the mercy of their teachers, coaches, peers, parents and pop culture. It is hard to find where they fit in and often struggle with constantly being judged and labeled during that struggle.
I have worked with many teenagers and it always has the same root issue: “other kids are mean or unfriendly and why don’t I fit in?” The pressure of succeeding academically also takes a toll. There is pressure to get involved with sports or music or drama or volunteering, while teachers pile on homework. Teens are sleeping less, often getting bullied, eating poorly, zoning out with video games and have little knowledge of how to manage their stress. All this contributes to their anxiety and poor self -esteem.
I have a client who could not stay awake in class because he was playing video games until the early morning hours. Admitted he was addicted to them because it was easier than dealing with fitting in and dealing with bullies. After hypnosis, his sleeping is normal and video games are very limited. He feels good about himself and is doing much better in school. Another teen was feeling anxious because she felt judged by the girls in school who were always commenting on her clothing choice. She felt bullied. Using several techniques, besides hypnosis, she now sees the girls differently. She does not let them affect her self- esteem and her life is much better. Yes, there are many ways to help them. My teen clients have learned to change their perspective, learned to relax, and learned how to cope with stress.
I have also worked with teen athletes who face tremendous pressure and performance anxiety. Many professional athletes and coaches use hypnosis because it removes the fear of embarrassment and failure.
Even something as simple as taking tests in school creates tremendous stress and pressure. Learning to relax before a test is the secret to remembering all the answers. Since all hypnosis is self -hypnosis, my goal is to teach my clients how to use the skills I give them to relax, cope and control their future thoughts without needing me.
Some have asked me if it is harder to be a teen now than it was in the past. The answer is, it doesn’t really matter. Being a teen was always stressful and based on what I work with when I see adult clients, not everyone dealt with it very well.
The best way to help a teenager is to empower them with skills to cope with the challenges we all face at one time or another: stress management, impulse control, dealing with difficult people, goal setting and improving self esteem. When you learn to control your thoughts, you feel better and the world seems a little friendlier!