Research undertaken this year by Reach Out Australia has found that stress about the future is having a moderate to major impact on the mental health and wellbeing of almost 55% of young Aussies.
The study also found that the most common age to start stressing about the future was between the ages of 14 to 16 at 39.5%.
It’s an important time to equip our young people with tools and skills to help them take care of their mental health. Read on to find ways to help yourself, or a young person you care about, to improve mental wellbeing.
Listening to music, watching TV, reading a book
The study found that the most common strategy to manage stress about the future was to watch TV or listen to music, with 57% of respondents doing so. TV, books and music in particular, is a great short-term tool to help manage stress and anxiety levels as it offers an immediate refocus and new channel for emotional engagement.
Sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best way. Taking the time to sit down and write out deep thoughts can be extremely helpful in processing through stressful times. A journal can also be a great place to track progress as people work towards goals, as well as be a place to let out a creative side. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of journals specifically designed for teens, including The Doodle Planner, True You and Big Life Journal.
Hanging out with loved ones
50% of young people surveyed said they destress by hanging out with friends and family. Worth keeping in mind even if it seems a simple idea – the various effects of loneliness post covid lockdowns being a case in point. Being around loved ones can provide support and insight when facing challenges; quality time with family and friends can also boost self-esteem and confidence. So next time you’re feeling down, make plans to spend some time with your nearest and dearest.
Resetting the vagus nerve by singing and humming
Scientists have a term for the buoying of emotions that can ensure from singing, humming and chanting – either by yourself or with others – it’s called toning your vagus nerve. Vagus nerve reset tips and exercises have been trending within the wellness sphere of Tik Tok, with plenty of teens and young people filming themselves to help others increase their mental health. Our ability to feel compassion and empathy is enhanced when we have a toned vagus nerve, and this in turn can result in a more healthy and resilient stress response.
Through painting, dancing, playing a musical instrument or even building Lego sets, young people are likely to be encouraged to follow their passions and express themselves through artistic means. Teens are often likely to look for inspiration for their artistic endeavours on social media platforms such as Tik Tok or Instagram. A 2014 review study has suggested that people who play a musical instrument have enhanced connectivity between the hemispheres of their brain. Allowing young people to express themselves through creative means is an excellent way for them to relax, be mindful, and improve mental health.
There are countless tools that can help young adults and teens manage their mental health. If you are going through extreme stress or mental health issues, reach out to your doctor or book an appointment with a mental health professional.
By Sarah Panther