Stressed Out Teenagers (part 2)

In early March, three therapists from Emily Cook Therapy in Bethesda, MD participated in the Health and Wellness Summit at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, MD. Emily Cook, Nooshin Kiankhooy, and Caryn Malkus presented to classes of 10th and 11th graders about stress and stress management. And goodness — we encountered some stressed out teenagers! 

This is part two of a two post series where we’ll share some of the information about stress that we discussed with the adolescents.

After giving them a True/False quiz to test their knowledge about stress, we facilitated a discussion about the signals bodies give to let us know we’re stressed. Then we brainstormed with the teenagers new ways to reduce and manage their symptoms of stress. Take a look!

How do know you’re feeling stressed? Here are a few symptoms of stress you may notice in your body and your mind.

  • feeling nervous or anxious
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • being tired and having trouble sleeping
  • sweaty palms
  • procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • having negative thoughts
  • feeling sad or down
  • a pit in your stomach or a “bad” gut feeling
  • having trouble concentrating
  • quick, shallow breathing
  • experiencing changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • avoiding friends or recreational activities
  • increased conflict with family members or friends
  • increased heart rate
  • feeling agitated or irritable

Here is a list of great ways for teenagers to reduce and manage stress. Pick one or two to try this week!

  • Meditation and muscle relaxation
  • Take deep breaths, while thinking to yourself (or actually saying aloud) “I can handle this”
  • Set small goals and break tasks into smaller, manageable pieces
  • Break the habit of relying on caffeine or energy drinks to get through the day
  • Schedule breaks to do enjoyable and relaxing activities
  • Accept yourself as you are by identifying and celebrating your unique strengths
  • Challenge your idea of perfection, in yourself and in others
  • Talk about problems with others
  • Listen to music
  • Exercise and eat healthy right-sized meals
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit technology usage, especially before falling asleep
  • Focus on what you can control (your thoughts and actions) and let go of what you cannot control (other people’s opinions and actions) (e.g., I’m stressed about a test that is coming up. I can control how well I study but I cannot control what the teacher puts on the test itself.)


Individual therapy for teenagers, or family therapy for teens and their parents, can be great sources of support during times of stress. Often, there is a “family way” of handling stress that might not work for each individual. And lots of times, when one person in a family is stressed, other family members start to feel stress symptoms, too!

Don’t wait to see help for stress. Call Emily Cook Therapy in Bethesda, MD today! Our expert counselors offer individual therapy and family therapy for adolescents (we focus on YOU!) struggling with a variety of issues: stress, body image and eating disorders, anxiety, depression, family conflict, following family rules, and setting clear expectations for behavior.