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3 Self Care Tips for Teens

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It's not easy being a teen in today's world. Teens attend some of the most competitive schools in the nation. Teens are also participating in more extracurricular activities after school to boost their college application. And, some teens may be working a part-time job on top of all this.

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) indicates just how stressed teens are today. The results of this survey shows that American teens say they experience stress in patterns similar to adults. And, when school is in, teens report levels of stress higher than those reported by adults.

The same survey found that only 16% reported that their stress had decreased in the past year. While at the same time, 31% said that their stress had increased in the last year with 34% expecting it to increase in the coming year.

We are also seeing an ever increasing number of teens who enter therapy struggling with teen anxiety and panic attacks.

This high level of stress may be a contributing factor to the increase in teen depression among teens. Teen depression has increased by increased by 59% 2007. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of teen deaths in the America. We are also seeing an ever increasing number of teens who enter therapy struggling with teen anxiety and panic attacks.

Teens have become very adepts at hiding their internal turmoil. As a result, we are seeing a growing epidemic within a world wide pandemic.

"Sharpen the Axe": Self Renewal

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Teens have become very adepts at hiding their internal turmoil. As a result, we are seeing a growing epidemic within a world wide pandemic.

There are many self-care tips that teens (and adults) can do to help manage stress. As teens strive to excel, these self-care tips in managing stress may help prevent teen anxiety or teen depression. Chronic, prolonged stress can cause burnout in teens which is part of what brings on teen depression and teen anxiety.

It may take a paradigm shift for some teens (and some adults). In his book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens", Stephen Covey talks about the need to renew. Mr. Covey uses the "Story of the Woodcutter" to exemplify the need to renew.

The story goes:

"Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.

The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.

“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Teens want to excel academically. They devote time in extracurricular activities and are fully engaged. Teens put their all into these activities and more. The end goal is to succeed at the highest levels to build their academic resume. It is becoming more difficult to get into the top colleges and they know this. The pressure is on.

Yet, teens only have so much emotional, physical, and intellectual energy before their 'axe' begins to dull. Once the 'axe' has become dull, it becomes very difficult to be successful at the level teens would prefer. This is also when teen depression, teen anxiety, self-esteem, and self-worth take a hit.

3 Self-Care Strategies for the Highly Effective Teen

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It is important we take time out of each week to sharpen our 'axes'. The following are some easy tips on how to do so:

1. Sleep

So this one should be an easy one for a teenager. The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens get between 8.5-9.25 hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep at night. This self-care strategy is the most powerful out of them all. Lack of sleep affects both the mind and body and makes it difficult to function at levels we are capable of.

2. Exercise

U.S. News and World Report indicated that exercise in teens can:

Positively impact levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mental health.

Release endorphins, the body's natural "happy chemicals."

Lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol .

Stimulate the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which improves mood.

Increase self-esteem and body positivity.

Help teens sleep better.

Exercising for 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week can significantly decrease the stress. Exercise has also been found to be nearly as effective for teen depression and teen anxiety as medication.

3. Creative Expression & Hobbies

Often, stress is a result of worrying about upcoming challenges, thinking about past difficulties, or a combination of both. Being able to carve out some time where you can remain centered in the here and now can help a teen renew their mental resources.

Creative expression can keep us rooted in the here and now. A simple example that doesn't take much time is coloring. That's right . . . coloring. I know that this is what we did as children but give it a shot.

Take a coloring book that has pictures to color. Or, print out a mandala from the internet that you can color in. Spend 25-20 minutes of uninterrupted time and color your page. Focusing on a creative task helps us to take a mental break from the stress that follows teens wherever they may go.

Whether it's coloring, painting, building models, collage, or scrapbooks, carve out some time during the week to engage in a creative outlet.

And Bonus Tip Number 4 : Meditation/Guided Meditation

Meditation is a mindfulness activity that also keeps us rooted in the here and now. The idea is to focus on the present and let any thoughts about the past of future drift on by, pulling our attention back to the present moment.

Researches have found that meditation can change the function and the structure of the brain. Meditation can help build resiliency and decrease the impact of stress in a teen's life. Meditation can also help reduce teen depression, teen anxiety, and other emotional struggles.

There are many apps that you can download that will help you learn how to meditate. You can also look online as there are YouTube videos that can teach you meditation or can help by providing a guided meditation.

The beauty of meditation is that you can start at your own pace. You can start by meditating for two minutes and work your way up from there.

Beyond Stress: Persistent Teen Emotional or Behavioral Struggles

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It can be challenging as a parent to differentiate between normal teen stress and an sign of a more serious problem. The above self-care tips will help with teen depression, teen anxiety, teen trauma or PTSD. The above alone may not be sufficient to help your teen overcome the complex challenges of these, and other, emotional or behavioral challenges.

Below is a list of common, stress related, teen and family struggles that we help treat at Katy Teen & Family Counseling. If you would like to learn more, simply click on the word that is linked back to our website.

Teen Depression

Symptoms of teen depression include:

  • Anger or increased irritability

  • Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason

  • Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters

  • Feeling hopeless or empty

  • Irritable or annoyed mood

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities

  • Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends

  • Low self-esteem

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

  • Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism

  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance

  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak

  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

Teen Anxiety

Symptoms of teen anxiety include:

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge

  • Excessive worry

  • Change in eating habits

  • Physical complaints (i.e., stomach aches, headaches, etc.)

  • Being easily fatigued

  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)

Teen Trauma or Teen PTSD

Symptoms of teen trauma or teen PTSD include:

  • Irritability

  • Risky or destructive behavior

  • Hypervigilance

  • Heightened startle reaction

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Unwanted upsetting memories

  • Nightmares

  • Flashbacks

  • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders

  • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders

  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world

  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma Negative affect

  • Decreased interest in activities

  • Feeling isolated

  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions

Treatment Approaches to Stress Related Emotional Struggles and More

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If your teen is experiencing something that extends beyond the stress of being a teenager, there is hope. There are effective teen therapy and family counseling strategies to help teens and families heal. Below are some of those approaches we use at Katy Teen & Family Counseling. If you would like to learn more, simply click on the approach.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the gold standard approaches in treating stress related emotional struggles.

CBT is one of the most studied approaches in treating teen depression and has been found to be effective. We often use CBT in our teen depression therapy. CBT is an approach that does tend to take longer than some other approaches but the gains tend to be long term.

CBT is an important element in trauma therapy or PTSD treatment and can help teens overcome those struggles. CBT is also effective in teen anxiety counseling and is one of the more widely accepted approaches in teen counseling.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR was initially developed in the 1980's to treat trauma and PTSD. EMDR is one of the most effective therapeutic approaches in providing teen trauma therapy and PTSD treatment. Providing trauma therapy for teens utilizing EMDR has been quite effective for those teens who are a fit for the approach.

An added benefit of EMDR for teens is that it typically works faster with teens that with adults. EMDR therapy is not talk therapy and is helpful for those teens who may not be able or feel comfortable talking about their experiences.

Over the years, EMDR has also been found to be an effective teen counseling approach in treating other teen struggles. EMDR can also be effective in teen anxiety counseling and teen depression therapy.


Neurofeedback can be an effective approach for any teen. Neurofeedback utilizes the latest research from neuroscience combined with sophisticated software to help your teen's brain performance.

Researchers have found regions of the brain that interact with each other and are referred to as "networks". These networks heavily influence and often are the functional cause of many emotional struggles.

Neurofeedback not only treats the symptoms but treats the functional cause of those symptoms. We have provided neurofeedback for PTSD, neurofeedback for anxiety, neurofeedback for ADHD, and neurofeedback for depression.

There are other applications for neurofeedback such as Peak Brain Performance training. This can be especially helpful for gifted students and their academic performance. Talented teen athletes can also benefit from brain optimization.

It is especially helpful for teens who have been in therapy before and are 'all talked out'. It can be helpful for teens who may struggle with identifying and putting into words their inner experience. Part of therapy is being able to identify and explain what one is experiencing to help the teen therapist guide the process.

Teen Counseling & Family Therapy Specialists in the Katy, Tx & Houston Area

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, we have caring teen therapy and family counseling specialists to help your teen and family. Self-care is an essential part of any teen and families life journey.

Carving out time throughout the week for self-care activities discussed in this blog is important. Self-care can decrease stress and help prevent depression, anxiety, or other stress related struggles.

Teen counseling and family therapy is a self-care activity for those struggling with enduring and persistent emotional or behavioral struggles. If your teen or family have been struggling with the impacts of teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD/ADD, teen trauma, or other struggles, there is hope. Take the self-care step needed and call a teen counselor and family therapist today.

We specialize in teen therapy and family counseling. If you are in Katy, Texas or the Houston area, we can help. Our office is conveniently located right off of I-10 and Grand Parkway. We are located behind Academy Sports.

If you would like to start your self-care journey, all you have to do is follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC

  2. Talk with one of our caring specialists in teen therapy & family counseling

  3. Start today and let us help you and your teen restore hope, happiness, & connected family relationships

Other Teen Therapy & Family Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, we provide other teen therapy and family counseling services. Below are some of those services:

Neurofeedback Therapy

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling

To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone call to help match you with the right therapist for you teen and family.

About the Author

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Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. We only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.

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