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Help stressed teens manage busy schedules

Teen stress can bubble up from busy schedules and the pressure to succeed. Honors classes, sports, theater, volunteering and an active social life create a well-rounded high school student. However, too much activity can cause stressed teens.

Teens take photos with friends
Teen stress can bubble up from busy schedules and the pressure to succeed. You can help stressed teens cope using tools to find balance and set boundaries.

“These activities can be rewarding and fun, but there has to be a balance,” said Stephanie Kohlbeck, Ph.D., a Marshfield Clinic Health System child psychologist.

Signs of stress in your teen

Your teen may not tell you they are feeling overwhelmed, so look for these signs of stress:

  1. Changes in mood: They may be more agitated, anxious, short-tempered or depressed.
  2. Reporting more somatic symptoms: Watch for headaches, stomach aches or aches and pains.
  3. Changes in eating: This includes over eating or skipping meals.
  4. Changes in sleep routines:  (sleeping too much, difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty staying asleep)
  5. Less interest in activities or neglecting chores or hobbies
  6. Difficulty relaxing or slowing down

Find balance and organize busy schedules

Busy schedules are easier to manage if teens know what they need to do and make time to accomplish it. Kohlbeck recommends using a planner to stay on task or a digital calendar to keep the family informed about important dates. Look at your space, too. A clean bedroom, locker and backpack will reduce the stress of a misplaced assignment or uniform. It sounds simple, but it works.

It’s important to teach your teen about balance. Talk to your teens about their responsibilities like school work, job or family expectations. Then ask about the things they want to do. What brings them joy, and what they’re most passionate about? These conversations can help them learn how to prioritize about where to focus their energy.

When your teen is asked to participate in something new, discuss where it fits in the list of priorities. If it’s low on the list, remind them it’s okay to say “no” without the regret of missing out.

You can help give teens the tools they need to manage their schedule and feel confident when setting boundaries with these tips:

  1. Attend to self-care and make it a priority
  2. Maintain good nutrition
  3. Practice good sleep hygiene
  4. Make time for exercise
  5. Try apps for meditation and relaxation

Stressed teens: anxiety and mental health needs

Talk with your teen about mental health, feeling stressed or anxious. If your teen is struggling, be supportive and listen and use your judgement if more help is needed.

For help with teen stress, talk to a Marshfield Children’s provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

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