Teen Stress: What Are the Consequences and How You Can Help
Going through the everyday routine and hustle of modern high-speed life, adults experience stress regularly. It’s not easy to keep the balance in family life, raise kids, work, housekeep, do sports, leisure and many other things at the same time. However, the life of modern children, and in particular – teenagers, can be just as busy and stressful as the life of their parents. All those countless home tasks, tests, projects, sport competitions, and school plays leave no time for friends or hobbies and keeping children constantly stressed. Often the healthy sleep is something sci-fi-esque.
Teen stress becomes a wide-spread problem of the younger generation nowadays. In some cases, it can lead to the serious consequences such as poor health and even depression. That’s why it is crucial for parents to recognize the signs of the problem and provide teen stress help during the difficult period in kid’s life.
What is stress?
Stress is an emotional and physical reaction of the body to a certain threat or pressure. Being in a stressful situation, people may feel nervous, anxious and tense. Besides, on the physical level stress triggers a temporal splash of adrenaline (stress hormone) in our blood. This may result in breathing and heartbeat becoming faster, palms getting sweaty, knees shaky or even feeling giddy.
If stress is caused by some everyday pressure – like taking a test or reporting in front of a class, which often feels stressful for a teen – the emotional and physical signs of stress will go away once the situation is over. A child would feel relief and calm down. However, experiencing stress and pressure regularly can cause serious long-term impacts on an adolescent’s physical and emotional health, and even lead to a shorter lifespan.
Here are a few teen stress facts:
- According to a 2014 survey conducted by USA Today, over 50% of teens experience “moderate stress” throughout the school year, while over a quarter experience “extreme stress”;
- The average level of teen stress was 5.8 out of 10;
- As consequences of stress, 40% of teenagers reported feeling angry or irritable, while 36% felt anxious or nervous;
- 40% happened to neglect home responsibilities because of stress; 21% neglected school or work;
- 32% of teenagers experience headaches because of stress, while 26% reported of changes in their sleeping habits.
If parents notice any of these signs and changes in their children, the chances are high that teens are facing stress and its consequences may show up in different forms:
- Changes in sleep;
- Weight loss or gain;
- Frequent headaches or/and problems with digestion;
- Feeling tired and fatigue;
- Social withdrawal;
- Lack of interest in studies and hobbies;
- Indifference to own looks;
- Irritability and anger outbursts;
- Feeling anxious, sad, having panic attacks;
- Lack of concentration.
The reasons of stress may vary and differ for every child but here’s what causes teen stress most often:
Academics: Having difficulties in studies and getting low grades can be very stressful, as well as being constantly busy studying for the tests and having too many home tasks to do.
Peer pressure: Having problems in relationships with friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend is something that often happens among teenagers. Being bullied by peers at school or through the social network is a more serious problem and can have more dangerous consequences, such as low self-esteem or depression.
Family problems: “Unhealthy” nervous atmosphere at home when parents and children argue a lot can cause intense stress to a teen. Other reasons for family stress can include unreasonable expectations by parents, their demands to achieve the highest marks possible; parents getting divorced; parents having problems with alcohol or taking substances; illness or loss of a family member; strained relationships and rivalry among siblings.
Financial problems: Children who come from the families with certain financial problems can feel concerned about the lack of money even more than their parents; they constantly worry about college tuitions and attempts to find part-time jobs. According to studies, such teens grow into troubled adults.
Traumatic events: Traumatic events such as accidents or cases of mental or physical abuse can have a huge impact on a teenager. Sickness or death of a family member or a close friend very often can lead to even more severe consequences: a feeling of loneliness, fear of new losses, depression, and grief.
Other reasons that cause teen stress and anxiety may include physical changes in the body during puberty; low self-esteem; radical changes like moving to another city or a new school; unhealthy competition among classmates in school or sports; poor time management.
Regardless of the reasons and consequences, stress is something that teenagers may fight against and overcome. With the help and support of their parents, they can direct their life into a positive stream.
Teen stress management tips for parents
1. Talking and listening
Whenever parents notice any of the signs of teen stress mentioned above, they should try to talk it out with their child and find out what troubles them so much. Perhaps, a kid is seeking for a possibility of such frank talk and would feel less pressure having trusted parents into his/her concerns and worries.
2. Having a good sleep and a healthy diet
Regularly changing back to the normal healthy routine of sleep and eating can let a teenager feel more relaxed and gain more energy.
3. Standing against over scheduling
To get enough sleep and time to relax, it is important to set the priorities. Often, teenagers are engaged in too many sports and extra curriculum activities aside from their studies and having home tasks done. Cutting on one or two activities or an amount of a part-time job can lessen stress a child is facing.
4. Doing physical exercises
Sports can beat against stress very effectively. A long run in fresh air, playing football with the friends or a family hike can raise your kid’s spirits.
Let your children do what makes them feel happy: watch a movie, play a game, listen to music, doing something creative like drawing or painting. Often, a small break can do good.
6. Focusing on positivity
Explain to your teen that after all, no difficulty in life lasts forever. There’s a way out of any stressful situation and so much more to look forward in life: new friends, new activities, exciting trips, etc. They just need to learn to stay positive.