9 Tips to Help Kids Thrive in Today’s Stressful World
Young people today are living in a very different world than what their parents experienced, particularly as this applies to always being plugged into technology and social media. Of course, this isn’t the only difference, but many millennials are so regularly connected to a world of virtual reality that they never learn some of the basic skills, ideas, and techniques that provide for happiness, good health, and ongoing peak human productivity.
At my private practice I talk to young people about these ideas all the time, and now I would like to offer a few of my favorite helping tips below:
- Stay away from being a perfectionist. When we call ourselves perfectionists we are essentially saying that anything short of perfect is unacceptable. Think about that for just a minute, and ask yourself how much additional life stress you are experiencing simply because of the perfectionist paradigm? Instead of being perfect, strive for excellence — its a lot more realistic and much more forgiving.
- Learn as much as possible about stress. Young people are encouraged to learn about both how to appraise stress, as well as respond to stress in healthy and effective ways. At minimum, it is important to know the differences between acute and chronic stress, as well as the basics about how attitude, personal control, and stress predictability impact how stress is experienced.
- Expect failure. Of course none of us want to think about failure, but in life we all fail (in fact, we all deal with stress, frustration, and adversity, too). Note, I am not suggesting to enjoy failure, but I am saying that failure (when it occurs) should be learned from so that we improve our chances the next time out.
- Do the next thing best. This tip has to do with focus and disciplining yourself enough to not think about things that have already happened, or what will happen in the future. Staying in the here-and-now (what they call being ‘mindful’ today) allows us to gather our motivation, focus, and fortitude and thereby give us the absolute best chances for future success.
- Rely on life skills, not medication (drugs). Yes, every night we see commercials on tv telling us that we are helpless without pharmaceutical drugs, but this is a deceiving and misleading message. The reality is that by developing life skills including communication, conflict resolution, and decision-making allow us to enhance the overall quality of our lives — and without side effects of any kind.
- Don’t overlook the value of rest, exercise, and nutrition. While it seems like there is never enough time in the day, the reality is that we all have 24 hours a day to work with, implying that our choices are the concern, not the sheer amount of hours. When we are well-rested we are more alert and energized, allowing us to have more energy and resiliency. Additionally, eating well and exercising further add to the chances we will experience happiness, health, and success.
- Prioritize personal interests and hobbies. Too often we never get around to the things that make us the unique individuals that we are in life. In fact, many times we feel guilty spending just a few minutes a week doing things that don’t seem to have a tangible payout, or appear on the surface to be stealing from time needed toward our other responsibilities. Interestingly, my experiences have shown me the opposite. Specifically, when we prioritize a little time each week into our “guilty pleasures” (i.e. painting, writing, creating music, solving crossword puzzles, etc) only then do we connect with our basic human wiring and what makes us unique. This ongoing exercise of investing in you serves as both a stress relief as well a way to nurture the person you truly are, even if you don’t get “paid” in the traditional sense.
- Put down technology once in awhile. OK, this is probably is the toughest tip for me to sell to young people who have literally grown up with devices in their hand. It’s amazing how much time we waste on our portable devices, but the good news is that just a little time away each day will allow time for collecting thoughts, decompressing, and experiencing a mental “time out.” You don’t need to disconnect entirely, but you should disconnect regularly.
- Who wants it more? Ironically more often than not successful people don’t possess better skills compared to less successful people, but they do share one common mindset: they simply want it more. Achieving great things in life rarely just “happens,” but is instead a result of doing things others are simply not willing to do. Study a little longer, work out a little harder, ask one more question, or make a better choice when it comes to eating and soon you will begin to see massive, positive changes in your life occur.
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