Teens and Stress

Teens and Stress


TeenStressTeenagers are currently more stressed than ever before, especially during the school year.  A new report by the American Psychological Association recently revealed that adolescents are highly stressed, and that stress is leading to increased levels of anxiety, anger and irritability.

In addition to the impact on their moods, stress is influencing how teens are eating (not well) and how sedentary they are.  Unfortunately, we know that poor eating habits and a non-active lifestyle are not helpful in managing stress.  In fact, these are the exact opposite of proven stress relievers.

Stressed out teens develop into unhealthy, stressed-out adults.  Research has shown that the more stress one has to manage, the more likely it is that heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety will develop.

So what can parents do to help their teens more effectively manage stress?   It’s hard and so important to provide teens with the skills that they need now, in order to set the tone for a long and healthy life later.

Tips for managing stress:

1)   Be available. Teens have a hard time asking for help. Knowing you are available when needed, though, increases the likelihood that your teen will ask for it when needed.  Carve out time to spend with your teen and make it part of your family’s routine.  Your teen will appreciate it, even if you don’t think he will.

2)   Encourage down time. It may seem counterintuitive to encourage your teen to stop doing work, when that may be what is creating stress.  However, taking a break and getting some exercise, or just relaxing, is important.  Sometimes this is just the reset a teen needs.

3)   Teach perspective. Teens often feel stuck in their own world, unable to see any different angles or focus on anything other than their own perspective.  Teaching your teen how to look at things from a variety of points of view can help your teen recognize what is important, and what’s not.  Just this piece of awareness may help reduce stress.

4)   Focus on the positive. It’s so easy to get stuck in the negative and to stay there.  Help your teen look at any sorts of positives that may be present in a variety of situations.  By helping her see that there may be a benefit to a tough situation, you can help her break through the frustration and feel better.

Most importantly, parents have to model ways to handle stress themselves.  If you can’t manage your own stress, it’s impossible to ask your teen to do so.  Teens have many more responsibilities and pressures, or so it seems, than they have in the past. Take the time to work on these skills now, in order to set them up for success in the future.