The numbers are not good when it comes to Gen Z and mental health.
According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of Gen Z — which the U.S. Census classifies as people born from 1997 to 2013 — in 2022 had experienced psychological or physical symptoms as a result of stress within a time period of one year.
A big component of Gen Z are current teenagers, who often struggle with mental health issues, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.
It will be a big talking point for teenagers on Thursday, which is World Teen Mental Wellness Day.
So, how can teens and their parents help cope with any stress and anxiety?
Here are 10 tips to help cope, according to raisingteenstoday.com.
1. Talk issues out
Instead of keeping feelings bottled up inside, communicating and talking through any issues can help prevent depression, according to a study by the University of Rochester. Talking out issues can help teens identify and manage their feelings.
2. Take a break
If activities such as school or sports get to be too much, missing a day to recharge can sometimes be helpful.
3. Don’t be afraid to lower expectations sometimes
This isn’t meant to dissuade teens from trying to be their best at all times. Instead, if societal pressures can become overwhelming, realize a student doesn’t have to have a 4.0 grade-point average or be the star player in order to be successful in life.
4. Identify triggers
This can be done by writing down anything in life that might be causing stress, anxiety or depression, such as homework or issues with friends. Identifying those triggers can go a long way to managing emotions.
5. Look methodically at stressors
Even if issues in the life of a teen can’t be completely fixed, they can be managed. Turning a phone off to avoid distractions, cutting away from unhealthy or toxic friendships or reducing commitments to free up more time to decompress are a few strategies.
6. Realize sleep is an ally
A lack of sleep can lead to not only irritability, but also depression, anxiety and exhaustion.
7. Exercise and proper eating
Not eating proper foods can lead to deficiency in certain vitamins, which in turn can produce feelings of sadness, anxiety and a loss of interest in activities. Smoking, vaping and consuming too much caffeine can also worsen anxiety. Exercising regularly releases endorphins and brain chemicals that can help one’s well-being.
8. Develop positive self-talk skills
Instead of allowing negative thoughts to make one feel miserable, talking more positively and giving oneself more encouragement can have a strong impact on managing stress or anxiety.
9. Use relaxation and mindfulness techniques
Doing things such as taking deep breaths, stretching, visualizing a calmer place, meditating or writing feelings down can help calm down and stress or anxiety and get back on track.
10. Do activities that produce happiness
This can help bring peace, comfort and joy anyone struggling with mental health, especially a teen.
A few examples are:
- Take a walk, ride your bike or go on a run by yourself or with a friend
- Listen to music that brings happiness
- Watch television or a funny movie, or listen to an uplifting podcast
- Call or Facetime a supportive friend
- Hang out with friends
- Dive into a great book
- Take a day or weekend vacation
- Make a gratitude list
- Do something nice for someone else
- Hit the gym and crank up the music
- Get out into nature
- Spend time with your favorite pet
- Treat yourself by taking a long bath, getting a manicure, pedicure or massage.