Being a teenager can be really stressful. Maybe even at this moment you are dealing with stress at school, in the form of pressure to get better grades and to do more extracurricular activities, filling up every moment of every day. Maybe you are dealing with stress at home, in the form of financial problems, arguments, or separations. Maybe your relationships with your friends are stressful. Maybe dating or your involvement in sports is stressful. Perhaps you are dealing with issues having to do with bullying, discrimination, poverty, or violence in your community. Maybe you are dealing with chronic pain or some other chronic health condition, like diabetes. On top of all that, you are probably trying to figure out answers to big questions like Who am I? Where do I fit in? How can I become independent and make my own decisions? It’s no wonder if you feel overwhelmed sometimes.
Any time you are experiencing a lot of stress, you may get “stuck” in your thoughts, whether you are worrying about the future or feeling bad about the past. You may get caught up in judgments about and emotional reactions to whatever is happening. If you don’t know how to handle stress, you may do things that end up hurting yourself or the people around you. For this reason, how to handle stress effectively—in a healthy way—might just be the most important thing you can learn.
Mindfulness is a simple but powerful tool for awakening the wisdom that is already inside you. It can help you handle stressful situations and transform difficult relationships. With mindfulness, you can free yourself from those troublesome thoughts about the past or the future, becoming more present in the “here and now.” Mindfulness also fosters the sort of kindness and compassion that can help you become your own best friend, as well as a better friend to others.
(Excerpted from The Mindful Teen by Dzung Vo, MD)