There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to stress management. Everyone is different; what works for your friend or relative might not work for you. Equally, what may have previously worked for you, might not work for you now. As you move through life, the events, anxieties, and curveballs you face will shift and change. It’s important to keep adapting how you cope with stress to tackle them at every stage. In this article, we’ll focus on some of the key stressors you may be facing in your life right now and the number one stress management tip to help you through them. Remember: whatever you’re dealing with will pass!
For toddlers and children: teach mindful breathing
If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume you’re not a toddler or child. That said, you might be responsible for one, and helping them stay calm will make your life much easier. It might seem like being a child is easy-breezy. However, they face a stressor that we often forget about lack of emotional intelligence. Just think how overwhelming it must be to learn right from wrong, start school, and form friendships when you have no practice at dealing with your feelings.
That’s why the number 1 tip for supporting stress at this life stage is to teach mindful breathing. Research shows that simple and age-appropriate mindfulness techniques can help regulate emotions, and there’s nothing more simple than deep and slow breaths. As Jay Shetty explains in his book Think Like a Monk, ‘‘we experience every emotion with the change of the breath. When you learn to navigate and manage your breath, you can navigate any situation in life’’. Give them the tools to deal with stress from a young age, and they’ll be equipped throughout their lives.
For teenagers: Find an active hobby
The teenage years are infamous for mood swings and unpredictability. There are hormones, family tensions, friendship groups, exams, and leaving school…just to name a few things! That said, you can embrace the messiness and make these years an incredibly fun time too. Finding a sport you love will not only keep you active, but boost your serotonin and energy levels, build friendships, and help you sleep better. This is the perfect life stage to try new things, so don’t be afraid to hop and change with your hobbies until you find the ultimate stress relief for you.
For young adults: speak to someone older and wiser
Your twenties are a tricky time where you’re expected to act like an adult but feel like you’re just winging it. There are societal pressures, starting a career, and relationships to contend with. While everyone at school was in the same boat, it’s likely you now have friends with very different lives.
It’s a lot, but it’s also exciting to have so many opportunities in front of you. The top tip for this life stage is to talk about all the things playing on your mind with someone who’s been there and done that. You might have a sit-down chat with your parents, grandparents, or an older friend to bring some perspective. They’ve been where you are; look, they made it through!
Since 75% of mental health issues begin by 24, this is a great time to make your mental health a priority and consider talking to a therapist too.
For adults: carve out ‘me’ time
Adulthood is a balancing act. Everyone is spinning different plates and common ones include children, relationships, careers, homes, and a mix of other responsibilities. It’s exhausting. If you take a bit of time for rest, you’re not going to drop and smash a plate. In fact, rest is key to ensuring you can keep them spinning for as long as they need to.
Carve out some time to yourself every day. This might be an aromatherapy bath, a daily meditation or journal practice, or, if possible, a relaxing weekend away.
For older adults: find a community
When it comes to retirement age, stress can look a little different. According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, making it a potentially isolating time.
Everyone needs someone to laugh with for light relief at the end of a stressful day. Our number one stress management tip for this age is to get out there and find your group. Perhaps you’re part of a religion, and the church runs regular events; maybe you have a hobby, and there’s a local club, or you could even start a morning coffee group.
The University of the Third Age runs in many areas, giving you the chance to relieve stress, meet new people, and pick up a new skill too.
Remember: the number one stress management tip is the one that works for you!
We’ve suggested some ideas based on stressors at each life stage, but only you know what’s going on in your life.
You can take any of these tips – and others – to build a stress management plan that fits your life today.