Four Ways to Lower Stress For You and Your Teens This Fall

After a summer of fun, we’re all back to nose-to-the-grindstone and it feels STRESSFUL! We reached out to local therapist Portia Pendleton for some suggestions on how to keep things calm at home.
By Portia Pendleton, LCSW

What a summer it has been! Is anyone else having a hard time adjusting to busier schedules? New projects? School? As Labor Day moves further behind us and the academic year picks up, I tend to see an influx of new patient inquiries. Stressed out teens with increasing anxiety, friendship issues, academic pressures; parents balancing work, households and children’s schedules; adults potentially awaiting the winter blues. Summer is so wonderful here on the shoreline, but Fall can be too! 

Here are some tips on how to keep your stress levels low:

Try your best to get a schedule going. Even with varying sports games and new projects week-to-week, having a plan can reduce unpreparedness and last minute rushing. When we feel unprepared or rushed our stress and anxiety levels rise causing irritation and short fuses. This makes us much more reactive to each other. We want to be able to know what is coming (most of the time). 

Set reasonable expectations for self and others. We all want the best for ourselves and for the people we love. I like to focus on the idea of “always doing your best.” My version of this has been influenced by The Four Agreements by Don Riguel Ruiz. His take on this really focuses on the idea that our best is variable due to things like our physical health (have you gotten enough sleep), our mental health (what emotions are you experiencing), and the fact that our best changes over time based on practice and experiences. We cannot always get an “A” or perform at our peak athletically. Taking some pressure off expectations of perfection helps decrease anxiety. 

Take care of yourself physically. We all know that more sleep and nourished bodies help our performance and mental health tremendously. Teens need between eight and ten hours of sleep per night – do most of them get that? No. Between homework, after school activities and talking to friends/scrolling through Tik Tok, teens are getting an average of six to seven hours. For adults the recommended amount is at least seven. Nourishing our bodies means getting in all major food groups; starches, fruits/veggies, proteins and fats – all throughout the day. When we are hungry our brain’s number one job is to focus on getting nourished. It’s a survival skill and also very distracting, so make sure to have snacks on hand. 

Use supports. We can’t do it all, it might be time to bring in the professionals. Let’s start with therapy. It can feel daunting to add in another thing to your life but working with a therapist to manage unhelpful thinking patterns or difficult relationships really works! There is a therapist out there for everyone and now with telehealth there are more options and access available. Other supports might include: carpooling, food delivery services, baby sitters, organizers, after school programs etc. There are typically a lot of programs out there that we just don’t know about. I recommend calling your local youth and family services in town for some information.

In Touch Therapy

251 Main Street, Suite 200, Old Saybrook

(860) 245-9598