teen counseling

Helping Teens Manage Emotions

The teenage years are often wrought with dramatically changing emotions that can, at times, seem overwhelming. The teenage body, mind, and emotions are all changing at once. To the teen, it can feel overwhelming, confusing, and even frightening.

As teens grow into young adults, they face new responsibilities, new peers, higher expectations, more challenging choices, and sometimes very adult problems.Some of the new emotions teens feel, are likely ones they cannot even name. Peers and romantic relationships become increasingly important, creating emotions that are more complex than previously experienced. Learning to navigate these tumultuous years can be daunting, yet with proper tools, teens can learn to thrive and enjoy the challenges posed during this time in life. Here are some tips for teens during this transition into adulthood:

  1. Identify what you are feeling. Take time to reflect on what you feel and consider why you may be feeling that way. Try putting a word with your emotion. Here is a link that will take you to a list of emotions and their synonyms. Articulating what you feel can be more freeing than you may realize. It can take the feeling from obscurity to clarity, making the process of managing it much easier. In order to address your emotion, you have to first understand what emotion you are addressing.
  1. Don’t judge your feelings. In our inner world, feelings just happen. There is no right or wrong, good or bad. Feelings can be as fleeting as the clouds in the sky or as nagging as the thorns on a rose; however, allowing those feelings to exist without judgment is the first step to reducing the complication that can come from thoughts about what you should or should not feel. Sometimes we may want to disown negative emotions because they may be seen as “bad feelings.” While these emotions are certainly undesirable, emotions aren’t wrong to have. It is valuable to learn to accept that emotions are a part of being human, and that they don’t have to control us. Keep it in perspective: Our emotions are only a small part of who we are. We can use them as a self-informing device for how situations affect us. We can use emotions in combination with the resource of our rational minds to manage how to react to situations.
  1. Determine healthy ways to express feelings. How we respond to feelings is important. As opposed to our inner world where feelings just happen, in the outer world, outside of oneself, there are right and wrong behaviors and choices of which we have control. Getting the inner world and outer world mixed up can cause complications and add more unwanted feelings such as guilt, built up anger, or create dilemmas based on poor choices that cause regret. So, how to express strong emotions? For many people it makes a difference talking to someone they trust about how they feel. Other outlets are journaling about feelings, painting or drawing, modeling clay, listening to expressive music, or exercising. Healthy expression of feelings helps in getting into a rational frame of mind, allowing for a balanced response to tough situations.
  1. Determine how to respond. Is the feeling based on conflict in a relationship? If so, what is the best way to address the situation?   Is it a prolonged unhappiness you have felt? If so, you may need to speak with a professional to help you determine the cause of the feelings and identify some solutions so you can get on the road to feeling better.
  1. Learn from your emotions. What are other situations that may cause you to feel the way you do now, and how might you better express that emotion next time? Once the emotion has passed, notice how you feel. Most emotions will be reoccurring throughout life, so learn from them. You’ll become more aware of who you are and bring better understanding to the ever-changing climate within yourself, naturally increasing your sense of confidence in your ability to handle tough feelings.

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