Your Emotional Health
Your Emotional Health
All teens—whether male or female, single or in a relationship, parenting or pregnant—are under a lot of stress. Juggling friends, school, relationships, parents, and plans for the future is a lot to handle. In an ideal world, you could just avoid all stress, but that isn’t realistic. No one has a stress-free life, but there are a lot of healthy ways to cope with stressful situations when they come up.
How Can I Cope With Stress?
As you go through your life, you will experience positive emotions and feelings as well as negative emotions—it’s all part of the deal. Stress can come from strong emotions, like worrying about your future, or your friends. You can also feel stress from things that are happening around you—like moving to a new school or fighting with your parents.
It would be great if everyone could go through life feeling only positive emotions. However, negative emotions are impossible to avoid—they can be painful or difficult, but they don’t have to become stressful. Stress can make some people feel irritable or low, and can also make tempers flare. You can’t control everything, but you can control your reaction to stress and stressful situations.
There are coping techniques that really help—like talking to someone or getting out and doing something physical like biking or going for a walk with friends. Sometimes you just need to figure out a healthy way to blow off some steam. Sometimes just being aware of what is causing your stress can help you feel better. Some suggestions for coping with stress:
- take deep breaths before you respond to something that makes you stressed or mad
- talk to a friend
- write in a journal
When Is It More than Stress?
How can you tell if you are feeling the regular stress of life or if you are dealing with something more serious? Sometimes what seems like stress is really depression or anger. Or, sometimes people respond to stress in unhealthy or harmful ways. Sometimes people direct their stress outwards and it looks like anger, irritability or abuse. Sometimes people direct their stress inward and start cutting themselves or develop an eating disorder. Stress can even affect your health by disrupting your sleep or making you get sick. You or someone you care about might be doing things that are risky (like cutting, abusing drugs or alcohol, developing an eating disorder or talking about suicide ). In these situations it is important to get help. If you are experiencing depression or anger that seems to be taking over your life, it’s time to seek professional help.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact TeenLink at 1-866-TEENLINK.
Getting and Giving Help
It may be hard to ask for help. You may think you should be able to handle everything on your own. You may think that asking for help shows your weaknesses or that you don’t deserve help. But everyone, at one point or another, needs to turn to someone else for help—whether it is a parent, a trusted adult, or a professional. Asking for help is part of life. You’ve probably had people ask you for help and support as well—it’s part of being a friend, and family member.
The first step in asking for help is to figure out that you need help. The next step is to figure out what you need help with (problems at home or with your relationship? Feelings that seem out of control?— and then to figure out who you might ask for help.
Your friends can be a huge source of support for you, and vice versa. But there is a fine line between supporting your friends and trying to fix their problems.
Be careful not to try to fix your friends problems—know the limits of what you can do and when they should talk to someone else. For serious issues, you can talk to trained staff at crisis hotlines. You can call a hotline for yourself when you need help. You can also call a hotline when you think a friend is having trouble and you aren’t sure what you can do to help.
Or if you’d like to talk to a mental health professional, check out this list of mental health providers in Washington. Select the area where you live to see mental health providers in your community. If you don’t have health insurance, use our online Benefit Finder or call our hotline 1-800-322-2588 to find out how you can get covered.
The Stress of Becoming a Parent
Becoming a parent is a huge life change that brings lots of new stress with it. You are not alone! You have resources to help you—including people who know the unique challenges of being a parent (which your friends might not be able to relate to). Get started by learning about a woman’s emotions during and after pregnancy, and find family support resources in your town here.
Here's more great information about how to deal with stress,