As anyone who’s ever been a teen knows, adolescence is rough. You’re trying to figure out who you are. You’re going through normal, yet weird-to-you, physical changes.
You’re dealing with peer pressure and possible bullies, all the while trying to succeed in school.
The good news is that even though the teen years are tough, there are skills you can learn to make the inevitable challenges a lot easier.
Learning to healthfully cope with your feelings is one of those skills. Here’s a few techniques to take away with you if you’re a teen and trying to deal with your emotions better.
“Managing feelings is one of the most important skills we ever learn,” writes Lisa M. Schab, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in the greater Chicago area, in her new book The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals.
In it, Schab shares valuable strategies for helping teens manage their feelings.
Managing Your Feelings
Schab includes a straightforward 4-step process for managing your feelings.
- Name the feeling. What emotion are you experiencing? For instance, are you sad, stressed, angry, anxious, joyful, disappointed, excited or embarrassed?
- Accept what you’re feeling. Many people worry that feeling their feelings will intensify them. So they avoid their feelings, in hopes that they’ll just go away. However, the opposite is true: Avoidance only fuels your emotions. Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel your feelings. Schab suggests saying to yourself, “It’s OK to feel ________.”
- Express your feeling. “Expressing a feeling is the only one way to release it,” she writes. For instance, you can express your feelings by writing about them, talking to someone you trust, crying, relaxing or exercising. Just be sure that whatever activity you choose, it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else.
- Pick a healthy way to take care of yourself. “What do you need right now to take care of yourself?” For instance, you might need a hug, a nap, a walk, a shower or support.
Becoming Familiar with Your Feelings
To better understand your feelings, Schab suggests paying attention to your feelings throughout the day. For instance, on a piece of paper, record how you’re feeling in the morning, afternoon and at night. Next to your emotion, also write down where you notice it in your body and how you express it.
Other Ways to Cope
Again, it’s important to find healthy ways to express your feelings. Schab includes a variety of helpful ideas, including:
- Say your feeling out loud: “I am feeling __________ right now.”
- Sing your feeling.
- Play your feeling on an instrument.
- Take a walk.
- Stretch your body.
- Write your feeling.
- Draw your feeling.
- After writing or drawing how you feel, shred the piece of paper; crumple it and toss it in the trash; or give it to someone else.
After trying an activity, rate it from 1 to 10 (1 being ineffective, and 10 being very effective). How helpful was the activity?
Different phases in our lives bring different challenges. But by equipping yourself with helpful skills, instead of drowning in the face of difficulty, you’ll be able to ride hurdles like a wave.