13 Coping Skills for Teens: Anxiety, Stress, Depression…

Stress can be a big part of the teenage experience, but coping skills for teens can help teach us how to alleviate this stress by dealing with it in a non-destructive way.

The teenage years are when many people report dealing with various types of mental turmoil and distress. Learning teenage coping skills for stress can help to lighten the load, making it easier to deal with the types of things that most teenagers have to deal with.

What Are Coping Skills for Teens?

What Are Coping Skills for Teens

We all use various types of coping skills to deal with various trials and tribulations in our lives.

In fact, it’s not only negative things that need to be coped with. Think about someone who wins the lottery and kind of loses their mind, they aren’t coping very well with something that happened to them, even thought it was a positive thing that happened.

Coping skills for teens apply uniquely to the types of things that teens tend to have to deal with, that younger or older age groups my not face in the same way.

Here are just some of the things that can cause teenagers to feel stressed out, drained, anxious, and down.

There are a number of ways to cope with these, which is the next thing we’ll be going over in just a moment.

This isn’t a scientific textbook coping skills definition, but I hope it made sense and helped to explain what we’re going to be talking about.

The following list has been adapted based on research by the AACAP (The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry):

  • Stress from the obligations of school, being overworked
  • Feeling down about themselves, negative self-image
  • Changes to the body
  • Problems at school involving peers
  • Living in an unsafe environment
  • Parents fighting, divorce
  • Health issues for themselves or family members, friends
  • The loss of a loved one or a family pet
  • Moving to a new neighborhood
  • Changing to a new school
  • Biting off more than they can chew
  • Money struggles in the family

What Happens When Teens Are Stressed and Overwhelmed?

A lot of different things can happen to a teenager when they feel stressed out and overwhelmed with their lives. It also varies from person to person, these feelings can manifest themselves physically in different ways for different people.

Some of the reactions to stress among teens who are having a hard time coping include…

  • Feeling anxious: Anxiety and stress are often closely related, and can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Anxiety is also often tied to various signs of depression in teens.
  • Becoming withdrawn: It’s not uncommon for teenagers to become a bit withdrawn, this introspection can be a part of self-discovery, but when it’s lead-on by immense stress, then it’s good to try to utilize teenage coping skills to resolve it.
  • Being aggressive: Sometimes, with a lack of coping skills in teens, stress is handled by being aggressive, either physically aggressive or speaking and acting in an aggressive way.
  • Feeling physically unwell: A lack of ability to cope can lead a teenager to feeling unwell physically including an increase in their rate and breathing. Hands can be sweaty or clammy, along with an increase in blood flow.
  • Fight, flight, or freeze: Stress can trigger someone’s fight or flight reaction, or it can just cause them to freeze up in a form of parallels.
  • Substance issues: When someone lacks the ability to cope with things, they may turn to alcohol or other substances. This is not a way to actually deal with the issue, and often leads to even greater problems. Learning skills to cope for teens is much more productive, so let’s go over some of those right now.

Try These 13 Coping Skills for Teens to Deal With Stress, Anxiety, and More…

13 coping skills for teens

Here are some healthy coping skills, arranged into different categories, to help you deal with various struggles that many of us will encounter during our lives, especially during our teenager years. Learning coping techniques to deal with these things now is beneficial because you’ll carry these positive coping skills with you for the rest of your life.

Please note that even though these coping skills for teens are sorted into different categories, you can use any of these coping techniques for any issue that you’re struggling with.

Coping Skills for Depression in Teenagers

Coping Skills for Depression in Teenagers
  • Create something: If you feel like you’re having a hard time coping with anything when you’re depressed, and the idea of doing homework or even tidying up feels insurmountable, see if you can bring yourself to simply create something.
    Whether it’s a quick doodle, coloring in a book, thinking of a melody or a song, writing a story, or whatever else, this can be a really useful first step to open up the door. Whether you make art, or build something, or whatever – it feels good to see the end result.
  • Keep a journal: I recommend keeping a journal next to your bed, but don’t set the expectation that you’re going to write in it every single day.
    It can become more of a chore if you try to write it in everyday, you could get burnt out, and so on. Unless there’s something specific that you want to journal and keep track of each day, just write in your journal when you feel like it. If it’s been a while, push yourself a bit to open it, grab a pen, and see what happens. This is another great way to start to pull yourself back up.

Coping Skills for Teenage Anxiety

coping with anxiety in teenagers
  • Exposure therapy for anxiety: More than one quarter of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
    Exposure therapy can be an incredibly effective way to overcome certain types of anxiety, by training your mind to realize that whatever you’re anxious about will not come to fruition most of the time.
    By experiencing what you’re anxious about, you’ll learn that it’s not too bad, and your anxiety is much worse than the thing you were feeling anxious about. (Read more at the Psychiatric Times.)
  • Listening to music to cope with anxiety: I think we all know that music can make us feel things, right?
    Some songs can make you feel sad, some songs can make you feel hyped up, some songs can just connect to you and relate to your life on a deep level. Whatever the case may be, it can be a good idea to create playlists that you can get lost in when you’re feeling anxious.
    This is like a form of meditation. Whether frantic and wild jazz is what you like when you feel anxious, or calm and chilled out lofi hiphop is what you’re in the mood for, try things out – learn which songs can make you feel calmed, relaxed, and comfortable when you’re anxious.

Coping Skills for Anger in Teens

  • Take a few moments: When you’re in the middle of an angry moment, it’s almost impossible to take yourself out of the moment and calm yourself down. But if you’re able to seize the brief moment right before it’s too late, by learning to recognize when you’re getting angry and taking yourself out of the situation, this is a brilliant way to cope with these feelings. You’ll stop your anger from getting worse, and give yourself an opportunity to calm down before anything worse happens. Anger management for teenagers isn’t easy, but learning these coping skills will help you immensely.
  • Identify solutions: Before just getting angry at something, or even during or after you’ve started to feel angry, start thinking about a solution to whatever is making you angry. The sooner you find a solution, the sooner you’ll be past it and the sooner you’re past it, the sooner there won’t be anything to feel angry about. This depends on what’s bothering you, of course, but it’s a good idea to be a solution-oriented instead of stewing on something that’s already happened or is inevitable. Fix it, so that you can get on with things and not feel angry.
  • Use humor: Sometimes, finding humor in a situation can be a great way to diffuse things, depending on your sense of humor and who you’re dealing with. In some conflicts, it can just set both people off and make things a lot worse, but among good friends, sometimes a good and risky joke is enough to settle the rising-tensions of anger between multiple parties. Humor can be a good coping mechanism for teens dealing with anger issues, but it can also be taken the wrong way, so be mindful and play this card carefully.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Teens

Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Teens

Any coping mechanism that makes you feel better without having to resort to bad or harmful coping mechanisms could be considered a healthy coping mechanism but here are some that are directly related to better health.

  • Going for a peaceful walk: Throw on some headphones or just enjoy the sounds of your surroundings, either way, taking a walk is a very healthy coping mechanism because it gives you a chance to disconnect from things, take some time to yourself, and it’s good for your mind and your body.
  • Spending time at the park: Is there a park near you, or even an area with a few trees and a table or bench? Some time in nature, whether you’re on a woodsy trail, sitting near a body of water, or anywhere else that feels calming,
  • Intense exercise: A walk or a stroll in the park is always nice, but many people feel great after an intense workout. Exercise can be a good way to get your mind off things, especially when you’re in the middle of an intense workout where all you can really think about is finding the willpower to keep going. You can forget about life’s problems, forget about the things that are stressing you, forget about whatever makes you feel angry or anxious, and just dedicate yourself to the exercise.

Examples of Coping Skills That Aren’t Productive

Not all coping skills are healthy coping skills. There are plenty, and I mean plenty of coping tools that can make the problem worse. Some examples of bad coping skills include…

  • Catastrophic thinking: Preparing for the worst case scenario is a good idea if you’re going mountain climbing, but in your day to day life, if you spend too much time catastrophizing about all of the bad outcomes, you’ll forget to realize that most of the time, things turn out just fine.
    Some people try to put themself, mentally, into the worse possible outcomes. They feel like this is a way to prepare themselves in case things really get that bad, it’s almost a way of building false-confidence in a toxic way, because you’re guaranteeing yourself to feel terrible as a defense mechanism against possibly feeling bad.
    What you’re really doing by using these types of coping techniques, is to guarantee that you experience the negative outcome at least once in your mind, and potentially again in actuality.
  • Becoming isolated: Becoming isolated into your own little shell, like a turtle, can be comforting at times and everyone needs some alone time but it can quickly get out of hand if you’re using solitude as a coping mechanism, rather than a way to avoid the world.
    If you’re feeling down, it’s perfectly fine to take some time for yourself to just figure stuff out on your own, or just to unwind and do things you enjoy, maybe even check something off of your summer bucket list for teens. Either way, if you start to isolate yourself as a coping mechanism, then it’s time to think about better ways to deal with whatever has been bringing you down.
  • Avoidance: This can be similar to isolating yourself, but they don’t necessarily go hand in hand since you can try to avoid situations without isolating yourself. This is one of the coping skills examples that can be harmful in the long term and the short term. Sometimes, when people have a very difficult time coping with negative things happening in life, they’ll try to avoid things altogether. The problem is that this isn’t really living.
    Bad things happen in life, good things happen in life, and most of the time it’s somewhere in between, but avoiding situations that could potentially be bad also means that you’re going to be missing out on so many good things and experiences.
    Learning positive coping skills will prepare you for negative outcomes or other bad things that happen in life, and will enable you to have the confidence in your ability to cope that’s needed in order to get out there and start living again.

You’ll Use These Coping Strategies For The Rest of Your Life

coping strategies for teens

Once you learn to use coping strategies for teens, you’ll soon learn that these are strategies and techniques that you’ll end up using for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you’ve found some helpful ideas on this coping skills list, and we also plan on expanding this list of coping skills for teens so please feel free to make any suggestions of anything that’s worked for you!

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