Running on empty – helping your teen manage stress

By Rhian Phillips is a Sydney-based naturopath who believes in treating the body holistically through the healing power of nature.
Naturopath Adv Dip

With an Advanced Diploma in Naturopathy at the Australasian College of Natural Therapy (ACNT) and experience working in naturopathic clinics, Rhian is passionate about helping people live life to their full potential. With a special interest in immunity, stress and anxiety, skin complaints, pregnant women and mums and their bubs. Rhian enjoys giving people the knowledge and skills to live life well.

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Between school, friends, social media and other commitments, the teenage years can be a stressful time. Here’s how to help your teen get through it.

We’ve all experienced stress – and teenagers are no different. Most of them, however, don’t yet have all the coping mechanisms that will be formed by the time they become an adult. Hormones also play a role, as teens can experience huge spikes in cortisol, known as the stress hormone. This can make stressful situations even more difficult for them.

The good news is that there are ways you can help support your teenager. Diet and exercise are essential stress-management tools at every age. The brain and the gut are very closely related. Generally, if the gut is healthy, then the brain and the nervous system are going to function better as well. Try to cut back on sugar and processed foods, which are so detrimental to the gut and therefore to the emotions. Replace them with vegetables, which are full of the vitamins and nutrients that our nervous system needs to function.

When it comes to exercise, research shows just how good it is for the mind. However, I’m finding that exercise can now seem overwhelming for some teenagers, particularly if they’re looking to the more extreme fitness influencers on social media. Remind them that simply going for a 30- or 60-minute walk can be beneficial and encourage them to do exercise they genuinely enjoy.

Sometimes it can be helpful for a teen to have someone else to talk to – counsellors, psychologists and even naturopaths are all trained to listen. And finally, because this is such a formative time, teenagers still need to be protected and nurtured. Tell them that they’re allowed to make mistakes ¬– that they don’t have to be perfect.

Three signs your teen could be stressed
Stress can manifest differently in each of us, but these three common signals are a useful guide…

Moodiness: They may experience moodiness, mood swings or irritability, or go through periods of feeling teary or sad for no real reason.

Sleep: No sleep or too much sleep might be a symptom of stress, so look for significant changes to sleeping patterns.

Nausea: Physical symptoms – such as feeling sick in the stomach or tight in the chest, or experiencing a loss of appetite – often go unnoticed but can point to an underlying emotional issue.

Stress-busting herbs and supplements
These herbs and supplements can support the body during stressful times. Always consult a health professional before taking them.

  • Fusion Health Stress & Anxiety
  • Passionflower tea
  • Magnesium


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