Experience how Change to Chill activities can help teens stress less.
- Stress & Mental Health
- Lesson Plans
- Mental Well-Being Resources – Hennepin County
Teaching your children how to cope with challenges in life is one of the most important things you can do for them. You can use Change to Chill and the ideas below to help. You might find some strategies that help you too!
No parent wants to see their child totally stressed out (or to be stressed out themselves). Stress makes family life challenging for everyone. However, as much as we might like to shelter our families from it all, there are a lot of different pressures in life and some stress is normal and unavoidable. Fortunately there are also many positive ways of dealing with it.
We know that teens in particular aren’t always receptive to parents’ advice. So we’ve developed a structure for using the Change to Chill website with family members that allows for tweaks and adjustments to suit your unique needs. Follow your child’s lead as to what’s important and helpful. The most important thing is to introduce Change to Chill so they know they can turn to it for ideas and information anywhere and anytime they have access to the Internet.
Watch the Change to Chill intro video together.
Encourage your teen to take the Stress Factors quiz. Better yet, both of you take it at the same time on separate computers. There are five questions and no right or wrong answers. Be sure to give your teen privacy but also be there if they want to talk. By taking the quiz your son or daughter will learn about where their own stress is coming from and what stress does to them.
After the 5th and final question is answered and they click “next,” a results page will appear. Take time for reviewing the customized results and exploring the recommended resources on the website. Again, don’t pressure your teen to share their answers or results if they don’t want to. Note that answers are not saved on the website and will disappear once you leave the site.
Watch the Stress Test video together. Then read through the Causes of Stress. What Is Stress?
Next, read about the Screen-Stress Connection (below) and talk with your teen about the topics covered here.
Screen time has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years. Today’s teens are the first to grow up in a world where smart phones, tablets, and even watches present the ability to have nearly constant access to electronic media and social interaction. As a parent, it can be hard to know what’s reasonable, what’s healthy, and when to be concerned when it comes to time spent on devices.
Screen time generally gets a bad rap; it’s blamed for everything from rising rates of illness to bad posture to social isolation. The problem is, screen time really isn’t one thing, right? Electronic media is actually used for a bunch of different reasons: school, social media, texting, mapping, playing games, reading the news, listening to music or watching shows, and a lot more. At Change to Chill we believe there are many good things that screens bring into our lives (like this webpage, for example!). Since Change to Chill is all about reducing and managing stress, we thought it was important to look at some of the emerging research on the screen-stress connection. There’s no doubt there is at least some correlation between certain types of screen time and certain types of stress. Correlation means there’s a connection, even if we don’t fully understand how it works. A lot of people are working on figuring that part out. In the meantime, here’s some of what we know:
Screen time is linked to physical stress.
Forty three percent of today’s teens get less than seven hours of sleep. That’s at least a couple of hours less than experts recommend. It’s also less than it used to be. The amount teens sleep has been falling in the past decade and researchers have found that young people who spend more time online get less sleep than their peers who spend less time online.
Lack of sleep can lead to a cascading list of problems, including difficulty in school and activities, anxiety and depression, obesity, and other health problems.
Spending five or more hours a day online (compared to an hour or less) increased by more than 50 percent the risk of sleeping too little in teens. Spending three hours a day online raised the risk of too little sleep by nearly 20 percent. There are probably lots of reasons for this connection, but we do know that one of them is physical: The blue light that screens emit inhibits the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.
All of these problems can be made worse by a lack of physical activity that often accompanies increased time spent on screens.
Screen time is also connected to social and emotional stress.
Author and researcher Jean Twenge writes, “In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys.” She goes on to say that she and her colleagues believe that screens are behind the shift. “Not only did smartphone use and depression increase in tandem, but time spent online was linked to mental health issues across two different data sets.
Talk about the different sources of stress you each experience. Has that changed over time? Do the same things that caused you stress when you were younger bother you now? What do you both think might be some sources of stress in the future? Explain again that Change to Chill is all about learning to deal with stress and change your ways of thinking to help you thrive in spite of whatever life throws your way.
What does screen-related social and emotional stress actually look like for teens? Everyone is different, of course, but here are four ways it can play out:
There are things you can do to relieve the pressure.
So, yes, there’s a definite screen-stress connection but we don’t think screens are all bad. There are lots of ways that screens help us communicate, learn, play, and participate in the world around us. Fortunately, there are things teens (and all of us) can do to maximize the benefits and lessen the downsides of a screen-heavy lifestyle. Here are some ways to start:
Now, talk about the different sources of stress you each experience. Has that changed over time? Do the same things that caused you stress when you were younger bother you now? What do you both think might be some sources of stress in the future? Explain again that Change to Chill is all about learning to deal with stress and change your ways of thinking to help you thrive in spite of whatever life throws your way.
Mindfulness and meditation are two of the healthiest and most effective stress-busting strategies.
Change to Chill has a number of options for learning about mindfulness and trying meditation with the help of videos and guided audio recordings. Learning some easy relaxation and meditation techniques can help you think more clearly, make better decisions, and manage whatever comes your way. Take a few minutes to explore the different meditations and then go to Mindful Eating at the very bottom of the page. Paying focused attention while eating a small treat such as a piece of dried fruit or individually wrapped candy is a simple, fun way to learn about the concept of mindfulness. Read through the instructions together and then do the activity following the step-by-step directions. After you’ve finished, talk about it:
Use the online five-minute video to provide participants with first-hand meditation experience. Invite them to get in a comfortable position. Inform them they can either watch the full video quietly or close their eyes and just listen. Either way, encourage them to follow the instructions and try the meditation. At the end take a few minutes to discuss what they thought of the experience.
Watch the Guided Imagery video together and try one of the processes, either to de-stress or to focus on a future goal. At the end talk about how you think you could use this strategy in different specific situations.
Changing to Chill is what’s known as a practice. It’s something you do regularly and learn about over time. No one ever just learns to relax once and then has it mastered. Fortunately the Change to Chill resources are available any time and anywhere young people have Internet access. To encourage your teen and yourself to stay motivated to continue what you’ve started today, choose one activity or suggestion from the website that you are each committed to trying over the next week. Agree to come back together in seven days specifically to review the website and talk about what you tried and how it went.