It’s no secret that the teenage years are hard. The combined stress of school, extra-curricular activities, and pressure from peers and parents often stretches us thin. Omnipresent thoughts of the future are sometimes scary, but it’s a thrill to grow up. And as we gain independence, our choices and decisions start to define our character. With this combination of stressors, anxiety is totally normal for teens.

Books can help teens deal with this anxiety. As more teens choose to read for the answers, teen self-help books jump higher on bestseller lists. From test-taking strategies and organizational tips to motivational stories and bits of encouragement, teen self-help books are written to guide young people through the fog of the teenage years. Some are even written by teens themselves.

But, as with any money-making phenomenon, there are critics who view the genre “teen self-help” with disdain. Some psychologists claim that these books give teens false hope and waste their time with exercises that are ineffective. Other critics claim that self-help books focus too much on visualizing the ultimate goal, rather than discussing the best path to attain goals.

I have found self-help books to be extraordinarily helpful. My biggest source of stress is performance anxiety. I play trumpet and I love playing in ensembles. But the second I step on stage for a solo, anxiety takes over. This summer, I had a big audition. Despite all my preparation, I knew that if I could not conquer my stage fright, my hard work would be for naught. I dove into the self-help genre. I wanted to find a way to take control of my anxiety, and make the stress work for me.

I read The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. The Inner Game of Music was written for musicians of all ages who wish to be more confident on stage while Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul is a compilation of motivational stories written specifically for teenagers. Both were wonderful reads, extremely well written, and full of encouragement.

Green’s exercises combined with Chicken Soup’s inspiration helped me realize my full potential as a musician. I walked onto that stage with newfound confidence, and while my fear was not completely eradicated, it was not my sole emotion. I let the music soar from me, uninhibited by terror, driven by nerves and excitement. I blew the judges away.

Performance anxiety is just one type of teen stress. Because teen self-help books target such a wide range of issues, I guarantee there is a book to help every teenager ease stress in their life and help smooth out the transition to adulthood.

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