"Stress" is defined as the way our bodies and minds react to life changes. Since adolescence is a period of significant change, including physical, emotional, social, and academic changes, many teens are under more stress than at any other time of life.
Teenage Stress Factors
- Increase in the weight
- Increase in the height
- Change in voice
- Development of secondary sexual characters
- Menarche (beginning of menstruation) in girls.
- Feeling of independence
- Attraction towards opposite sex
- Aggressive behavior
- Experimenting new things including substance of abuse
- Academic pressure and career decisions
- Pressure to wear certain types of clothing or hairstyles
- Pressure to try drugs, alcohol or sex
- Pressure to fit in with peer groups and measure up to others
- Adaptation to bodily changes
- Family and peer conflicts
- Taking on too many activities at one time
- It is very important for teens to learn to handle stress, as long-term build-up of stress that is not handled effectively may lead to problems, including physical illness, anxiety or depression, which call for professional help.
Teenage "Stress Overload" Signs:
- increased physical illness (headaches, stomachaches, muscle pains, chronic fatigue)
- "shutting down" and withdrawal from people and activities
- increased anger or irritable lashing out at others
- increased tearfulness and feelings of hopelessness
- chronic feelings of worry and nervousness
- difficulty sleeping and eating
- difficulty concentrating
- Our body's natural reaction to life events that we perceive as overwhelming is the "fight or flight" response, which may produce a faster heart rate, increased blood flow, shallow breathing, a sense of dread and a desire to escape. However, teens can teach themselves to perceive life challenges as being within their control and can even change their body's reactions to such events, promoting a lower heart rate, deeper breathing, clearer thinking and feelings of calmness and control. There are many stress management skills that promote the relaxation response.
Tackle Teen Stress
The teen stress should be dealt with both at home and outside home in school.
- There is a wrong notion among adults that there is no earthly reason for stress in teens. This should be avoided.
- The first step in tackling teen stress is to identify the signs and symptoms of stress in the teens. The teens should be allowed to talk freely about their problems.
- Parents and teachers should teach them stress relief methods.
- They should set only reasonable goals in both curricular and extra curricular activities
There are several treatment models to help the teens cope up with stress. The steps of one such model
- Ask the teenager to define stress taking an example of an incident
- Ask the teens about the their response to that stressful event
- Explain to the teens about normal stress response and ways of tackling stress
- Identify the source of stress in teens and help them understand that the same event incites different responses in different persons
- Teach the teen the best stress relieving techniques.
- Advise them to avoid unhealthy methods of tackling stress like aggression, avoidance etc.
Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens
The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness Skills to Help You Deal With Stress