Vacations are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable, but they don’t always seem that way in the moment. This is almost expected in adults, who must juggle the intricacies of planning and reservations with their desire to unwind. For teens, though, the reasons they’re struggling to relax may be less obvious. Whether your teen is struggling with a mental health issue like anxiety, depression, or substance abuse or they’re simply on edge from the ups and downs of adolescence, there are ways you can help your teen to relax and make the most of their holiday.
Treat underlying issues.
Before you can consider helping your teen to relax, it‘s crucial that you identify whether any mental health conditions could be at play. Mental illness is common in teenagers and, while it might seem difficult, there are tools that can alleviate their symptoms. A therapist or other mental health professionals can determine if medication or another type of treatment plan is the right choice for your teen. If your teen needs a higher level of care than a standard therapy schedule can provide, their doctor may recommend seeking an intensive outpatient or IOP program to get them the personalized support they need to make the most of both your vacation and a happier, healthier daily life.
Make plans that interest them.
If your teen has successfully completed their inpatient program and any mental health conditions have been identified and treated, it’s possible that their unease stems from your vacation plans themselves. Have you taken your teen’s interests into consideration when planning this trip? For example, imagine you’re traveling to Mississippi with your teen. Your saxophone star might love a stop along the Mississippi Blues Trail, while budding history buffs might be most excited by a stop in Vicksburg, a historic Civil War site. If it won’t worsen their stress, consider including your teen in planning the trip, giving them the chance to help choose activities that pique their interest.
Be willing to compromise.
No matter what activities you plan for a vacation, it’s important to keep the agenda flexible. If your child was an infant, you’d be ready to adjust your plans to accommodate their needs, whether that’s an unexpected nap or their need for a diaper change. That flexibility is just as crucial as your not-so-little one grows up. Children of all ages, even teens and young adults, have needs that can change without warning, and to help them relax while on vacation, you should ensure you’re accommodating these needs and creating a trip that really can be stress-free.
Support them along the way.
However you go about helping your teen relax, your top priority needs to be supporting them along the way. In some cases, this might be as simple as letting them know that they can be honest with you about their feelings while on holiday and long after you’ve returned to daily life. For others, this might require more active work to create a supportive environment no matter where you go. In any scenario, you must be there for your teen, even as they struggle. Knowing that your support is unwavering can be enough to reduce the emotional strain on your teen.
On vacation or through everyday life, your teen faces plenty of stress. Like those of any age, that stress can be enough to make them struggle to relax in even the calmest of settings. Nevertheless, with the proper mental health care where applicable and enough thought and effort on your part, you can help your teenager to unwind and embrace the joys of vacation, and maintain that mindset even after this break.