Frequently Asked Questions
How can I feel less stressed or anxious?
Teens have to balance a lot- school, friends, dating, extracurricular, part-time jobs, and more. It is important to look at your schedule and make sure that you have time to take care of yourself. Self-care includes tasks that most teens are aware of and are simple that can also can be hard to implement. Self-care includes eating three balanced meals a day plus snacks, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, scheduling regular exercise, and importantly, making time to do things that you ENJOY. Often, when we are busy, we stop doing the things that we enjoy doing because it feels like we just don’t have the time. Self-care looks different for everyone.
Is it normal to feel sad all the time?
There are a lot of reasons people feel sad (for example, a big life change, a loss, a stressor, etc.) and sometimes people may feel sad without a specific “reason.” If you are noticing that feeling sad is making it hard to do the things you want to do or the things you are expected to do (for example, schoolwork, practice, chores), it may be helpful to talk to a trusted adult in your life about getting some help.
How can I control my thoughts/How do I deal with scary thoughts?
It may be helpful to take a step back and realize that your thoughts are not facts. Sometimes our thoughts feel like they are controlling us. Rather than getting into a back-and-forth fight with your thoughts, it might be helpful to just notice and name them. “Oh, I’m having that ‘I’m a failure’ thought again.” This is what we call cognitive defusion and it can help you gain some space between you and your thoughts. Additionally, it can be helpful to check the facts on your thoughts to see if your mind has you worrying about things that are not facts or that could happen, but most likely won’t (for example, a plane crash). Distraction can also be a useful tool to take your mind off these scary thoughts in the short-term. If scary thoughts are getting in the way of doing things you want to do or are expected to do, you may want to discuss with a trusted adult about meeting with a mental health professional. If you continue to struggle with controlling your thoughts, you can ask to meet with a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy which includes cognitive restructuring, an effective strategy that helps us control our thoughts.
Why do I feel so angry?
Anger is a normal human emotion that we all experience. All emotions have a function, even if they sometimes feel uncomfortable. Emotions can motivate us to overcome obstacles, communicate to others, and communicate to ourselves. Is your anger helpful in any way? Does your mom only listen when you feel angry? You may want to think about the things in your environment that reinforce your anger. You also may want to think about whether your anger results in short-term or long-term negative consequences. If your anger does result in negative consequences, even if it feels good to release the emotion, alternative coping strategies can be learned which helps you manage the emotion without the negative consequences.
Is my level of stress/anxiety normal?
There is no “normal.” Everyone experiences a different threshold for anxiety and stress. Is your anxiety/stress getting in the way or negatively impacting how are doing at school, with friends, or at home? This question may help you determine whether your stress/anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life. If you think your stress/anxiety is interfering with your functioning, it may be helpful to talk with a trusted adult in your community and ask them to help you find a professional. Again, cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for a lot of people with stress and anxiety.
Why do my thoughts race at night?
Oftentimes we are going from one activity to the next during the day, and teens are so busy and distracted by daily life that they may not have a moment to reflect on positive and negative moments. This means that sometimes our only truly quiet time is right before bed, which is one potential reason why your thoughts feel like they are racing at that time. When we are experiencing stressful times, which may happen for teens during finals or when there are relationship issues or transitions, our thoughts can race more. Relaxation and/or meditation practices can help us relax and there are many phone apps that can be helpful with this.
Why am I scared of things I cannot control?
Uncertainty is scary! Our bodies are programmed to feel calmer when we are in control of our environment. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective as it was protective for humans to be on the lookout for any changes that could be threatening. Of course, we can’t control everything in our lives. It is important to do our best to accept that and even remember that sometimes change can lead to good things. In addition, learning coping skills on how to control our emotions, when we can’t control our environment can be very helpful for everyone.
Am I addicted to something (e.g., juuls, marijuana, alcohol, pills, shopping, sex)
People who are experiencing addiction may have intense urges to engage in behaviors (for example, using juuls, marijuana, alcohol, pills, or engaging in shopping or sex) that may sometimes feel good in the moment, and also have both negative short-term and long-term consequences. Meeting with a non-judgmental health care professional can help you understand if you are experiencing issues related to addiction and how to best treat it.
How do I tell my parents about the things that I’m struggling with?
It is so important to communicate with others about how you are feeling and areas in which you are having a hard time. Other people might not fully know how we are feeling. It can be helpful to describe the things that are bothering you and communicate what you think you might need. Consider using non-judgmental and non-blaming language. For example, it is often not helpful to say something like “it is all your fault that I feel this way.” Sometimes parents can become defensive or upset to hear that you are struggling. If possible, try to validate your parents’ emotions and thoughts AND continue to express that you need help. It may be helpful to practice this conversation with someone else or write it out before.
Why do I have such negative thoughts about the way I look?
Media and pop culture portray a very skewed depiction of what our bodies should look like, which can influence the way that people (especially adolescents) see themselves. The more you are exposed to media, the worse this could be. If you think your negative view of your body or eating habits is interfering with your functioning, it may be helpful to talk with a trusted adult in your community and ask them to help you find a professional. Again, cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful for a lot of people with negative thoughts about their appearance.
I am struggling, and I don’t even know what I am struggling with. Who should I talk to?
We always recommend talking to a trusted adult in your community. This may be a family member, teacher, school counselor, doctor, or clergy. Sometimes adults in our lives aren’t always educated on mental health issues and can minimize these issues. If this is occurring in your life, or you are having trouble identifying an adult to speak with, you might consider calling a national hotline like 800-273-TALK (8255).
While it can feel like you are alone or the only one dealing with this, 1 in 5 teens experiences a mental health issue
Who Can Help?
It is important to speak to a trusted adult who can help support you during difficult times.
CBT explains that our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are all connected and impact each other.
The way we interpret (or think about) a situation impacts how we feel and behave.
There are reasons that humans (and animals) have emotions – we need them to survive!