The average day of a teenager is not an easy one.
High school classes start early and, according to a 2013 survey conducted by the APA, the pressure to do well academically is reported to be the biggest source of teen stress. The vast majority of teen participants worries about being good enough, meeting and exceeding expectations, and managing the perceived need to overburden themselves with extracurricular commitments. Additionally, there are all the pressures that accompany coming of age: post-graduation plans, negative self-perception, body changes, family or parental conflict, and so on.
And that pressure takes a toll.
Researchers found that teens are actually more stressed than adults.
But haven’t teens always had to manage similar stressors?
Why is teen life so stressful now?
Studies indicate that technological influence, inconsistent modeling, and uncertainty about how to make changes contribute to higher stress levels.
Technology and Teen Stress.
Teens today live in a perpetually turned-on, tuned-in, tech-savvy world. Social media has changed the nature of teen social life. Teens feel pressure to look like they’ve got it all together, with the selfie to prove it.
Technology has also changed the way teens blow off steam. The APA survey revealed that tech-based coping mechanisms contribute to rising teen stress levels due to their sedentary nature. Despite trying to relax through video game playing, Internet surfing, or binge-watching TV or movies, the lack of exercise ensures that tension remains in the body. Teens reporting less stress are teens who also report exercising at least once per week.
Teens and Stress Management Modeling.
What teens have learned from adults regarding stress management, unfortunately, tends to be unsatisfactory. Teens find often themselves imitating adult coping mechanisms like insufficient activity, interpersonal interaction, overeating, and sleep deprivation in order to accomplish more. None of these mechanisms is good for anyone, let alone the still-developing mind and body.
Teens Need Help with Stress.
It is vital that parents and influential adults look into the lives of overloaded teens.
Coping with teen stress requires guidelines, tools, and encouragement for young people so that they can feel comfortable and in control of their own lives and choices.
Consider the following tips for helping your teen learn how to deal with stress:
- Prize realistic expectations rather than perfectionism. Combat social media culture by talking about his or her perceived expectations and reminding your teen that everyone struggles. Let your teen know that you are willing to discuss what really matters, and that you love them no matter what.
- Allow your teen to step back. Stretched schedules are often a burden. Encourage your teen to cut activities until stress is alleviated. Add activities only when time affords.
- Focus on strengths. Help your teen build in time for the things that they do well and enjoy. Everyone needs time to focus on doing the fun things in life. It helps put negativity and challenges in perspective.
- Encourage adequate sleep. Teens naturally prefer late nights and late mornings. This generally doesn’t work with a school schedule. Set a good example by winding down activity in your home and turning in earlier yourself.
- Nourish your body. Encourage your teen to keep his or her body fueled on more than meals on the run or junk food. Help the case by providing healthy snacks and evening meals.
- Check in regularly. Teen stress is often a result of feeling unable to meet demands. Peace of mind comes from sharing burdens. Teach your teen that life is a cooperative adventure. Diminish any sense that your teen is combating stress alone.