Stress is becoming extremely common among adolescents, and if left unchecked, it can have significant problems on mental and physical health. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent and cope with this issue. By adopting some of these strategies, you can keep your stress under control.
Common Causes of Stress in Teens
Peer pressure is a pressure felt to behave in a certain way caused by the urge to fit in. Since the brain is developing during adolescence, peer pressure is most influential during this time. Negative peer pressure can have many effects, including:
Usage of drugs or alcohol
Engagement in illegal activities
Poor acadmic performance
How to avoid peer pressure:
Choose your friends wisely
Listen to common sense
Talk with those you trust
Learn to feel comfortable saying "no"
Bullying is when someone injures, physically or mentally, another person. These are some types of bullying:
Physical: hitting, kicking, tripping, etc.
Verbal: name-calling, teasing
Relational/social: spreading rumors
Damage to property
This can have serious problems for the person being bullied, including:
Dropping out of school
Those that bully others are at risk of:
Violence later in life
Mental health problems
How to cope with bullying:
Tell an adult you trust (parents, teachers, school counselor, school principal)
Use body language that shows you're not vulnerable
Signs that someone is being bullied:
Lost or destroyed property
Frequent headache or stomach ache
Changes in eating habits
Declining grades or not wanting to go to school
Avoidance of social situations
Signs that someone is bullying others:
Having unexplained extra money or new possesions
Socializing with other bullies
Don't accept responsibility
Why kids are afraid to ask for help:
Fear of backlash
Feeling that no one cares or understands
Fear of rejection by their peers
Fear of judgement
Fear of appearing weak
Social media, while keeping us connected, does impact our mental health. Since social media brings cyberbullies, the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), social media challenges, and more to the scene, there are some things you have to watch out for:
Social media challenges (while many are harmless, watch out for those that go against what your conscience says)
While social media is good for social interaction, be aware of its dangers and try to spend more time interacting with others in person than online.
School is an important source of stress in teens. Worrying about academic performance, participation in extracurricular activities, college applications, competitions, etc. can increase stress levels significantly if not handled properly. Some tips to avoid this stress are to:
Organize your time
Keep a healthy lifestyle
Tips to Help Prevent Stress
Mantain proper sleep hygiene
Don't try to be perfect
Learn to relax
Surround yourself with positive people
Make time for fun
Keep a balanced diet
Tips to Help Cope With Stress
Physical activity, while helping keep you fit, also has positive impacts on mental health. Activities you can do include:
Meditating for just 10 minutes each day is enough to see significant change. Some benefits include:
Increased self awareness
Listen to Soothing Music
Calming music, namely slow, instrumental music, can help decrease stress. Listening to nature sounds also help manage stress.
Asking the Experts
Dr. Michelle Channing
InPsych Consultants, P.A.
Q: In your experience, is stress a common problem in teenagers?
A: Yes, we all have stress. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, you’re probably familiar with stress. Stress may be widespread; however, it is not simple. You can’t eliminate it from your life. In fact, you wouldn’t want to. Without stress, life is boring and colorless. With no pressure, no challenges, and no struggles, life would be dull. Stress adds flavor and zest to life. The secret is to strike a balance with stress so that it adds spice to your life -- without giving you indigestion. Human beings are resilient. We can handle a lot without falling apart. In fact, that’s one of the positive functions of our stress reaction. It helps us rise to the occasion and get ourselves safely through even the roughest of times, at least temporarily. Stress is with us all the time. It comes from mental, emotional, and physical activity. It is unique and personal to each of us. So personal, in fact, that what may be relaxing to one person may be stressful to another. Too much stress, however, can be disastrous. It can seriously affect your physical and mental well being. A major challenge in this stress filled world of today is to make the stress in your life work for you instead of against you. When stress becomes prolonged or particularly frustrating, it can become harmful causing distress or “bad stress”. Recognizing the early signs of distress and then doing something about them can make an important difference in the quality of your life, and may actually influence your survival.
Q: What are some of the main causes of stress in teenagers that you see in your practice?
A: These are sources of many teenager stressors in 2021:
Interpersonal (boyfriend/girlfriend conflicts, change in breakup of a relationship, demanding friends, limited friends, conflict with a teacher, parental conflicts)
Academic (midterms / finals, papers, selecting a college/major/career, parenting expectations, time pressures, academic problems or pressures)
Health/Wellness (hormonal influences, health/COVID-19, illness in the family, change in sleeping habits, change in eating habits,weight control/concerns)
Mental Health (anxiety, depression, adjustment/transition challenges, death of a family/friend)
Financial (parents job loss, changes in family finances)
Environmental Stressors (change in residence, traffic jams, legal concerns, living in a high crime area, car/transportation problems)
Q: Can the negative effects of stress be avoided and how?
A: Yes, here are examples of what you should do:
Getaways: Spend time alone. See a movie. Daydream.
Hobbies: Write. Paint. Remodel. Create something.
Learning: Take a class. Read. Join a club.
Music: Play an instrument. Sing. Listen to the stereo.
Play: Play a game. Go out with friends.
Balancing: Balance time at school, home, and work.
Conflict resolution: Look for win/win solutions. Forgive readily.
Esteem building: Build good family feelings. Focus on personal strengths.
Flexibility: Take on new family roles. Stay open to change.
Networking: Develop friendships with other families. Make use of community resources.
Togetherness: Take time to be together. Build family traditions. Express affection.
Affirmation: Believe in yourself. Trust others. Give complements.
Assertiveness: State your needs and wants. Say no respectfully.
Contact: Make new friends. Touch. Really listen to others.
Expression: Show feelings. Share feelings.
Limits: Accept others=. Drop some involvements.
Linking: Share problems with others. Ask for support from family/friends.
Imagination: Look for the humor. Anticipate the future.
Life planning: Set clear goals. Plan for the future.
Organizing: Take charge. Make order. Don’t let things pile up.
Problem-solving: Solve it yourself. See outside help. Tackle problems head-on.
Relabeling: Change perspectives. Look for good in bad situations.
Time management: Focus on top priorities. Work smarter, not harder.
Biofeedback: Listen to your body. Know your physical limitations.
Exercise: Pursue physical fitness. Jog. Swim. Dance. Walk.
Nourishment: Eat for heath. Limit use of alcohol.
Relaxation: Tense and relax each muscle.
Self-care: Energize your school, work, and play. Strive for self improvement.
Stretching: Take short stretch breaks throughout your day.
Commitment: Take up a worthy cause. Say yes. Invest yourself meaningfully.
Faith: Find purpose and meaning.
Valuing: Set priorities. Be consistent. Spend time and energy wisely.
Examples of what you should NOT do:
Alcohol: DON'T drink to change your mood.
Denial: DON'T pretend nothing is wrong, lie, or ignore the problem.
Drugs: DON'T abuse coffee/aspirin/medications, smoke pot, or pop pills.
Eating: DON'T keep binging, go on a diet, or use food to console you.
Fault: DON'T have a judgmental attitude.
Finding: DON'T criticize or complain.
Illness: DON'T become accident prone or develop headaches/nervous stomach/major illness.
Indulging: DON'T stay up late, sleep in, buy on impulse, or waste time.
Passivity: DON'T hope it gets better, procrastinate, or wait for a lucky break.
Revenge: DON'T get even, be sarcastic, or talk mean.
Stubbornness: DON'T be rigid, demand your way, or refuse to be wrong.
Tantrums: DON'T yell, mope, pout, swear, or drive recklessly.
Tobacco: DON'T smoke to relieve tension.
Withdrawal: DON'T avoid the situation, skip school or work, or keep your feelings to yourself.
Worrying: DON'T fret over things or imagine the worst.