Over the past few years, there has been a large increase in teenage stress. According to Dr. Sharon Hunter and Dr. Felicia Sawyer, “Results of the survey show that not only do teens identify that their stress levels are not healthy, but they also underestimate the impact stress has on their mental and physical health.”
All teens experience stress in some form in their lives, both healthy and unhealthy. Some stress can be significant to the point where it has a toxic impact on their lives, interfering with many things including school, learning capabilities, relationships, friendships, and more. On the other hand, a healthy amount of stress could be motivating in those specific areas.
Signs of stress can be shown in four different ways: Emotional, physical, behavioral, and cognitive. Emotional signs include anxiousness, agitation, or depression, according to the Journal of Advances in Social Science and Humanities. Physical signs include lower immunity, headaches, or other aches and pains. Behavioral signs include a change in eating and sleeping habits and trying to avoid normal daily activities. Cognitive signs may include struggling to maintain focus, remember, or care for things.
Stress can be shown in many ways outside these four examples. Some teens may be better at putting on a ‘mask’ to hide their stress, but they all experience it in some form and may have their own unique coping strategies.
Navigating friendships on top of a relationship means worrying about how their friends may feel about their boyfriend or girlfriend and vice versa. Sometimes, friends may put pressure on teens to choose between them or their partner. This could be the same as the partner putting the same pressure to choose between them or the friends.
Peer pressure goes hand in hand with romantic relationships and friendships. Teenagers may feel the need to go out of their comfort zone to make their friends or partner happy. This kind of pressure can take a huge toll on a teenager’s mental health.
Academics and expectations are also major stress triggers. Whether it's exams, homework, classwork, or presentations, teens are highly affected by academic stress. School-related stress can be based on the expectations that are being held for teenagers. These expectations could be held by parents, teachers, peers, and even themselves. Standardized testing like the ACT and SAT takes a lot of time and studying. Many colleges only accept certain scores which causes teens to stress about their performance on the tests.
In a survey held by Hunter and Sawyer, they were able to conclude “59.55% indicated that standardized tests made them anxious. Only 40.45% stated that they were not overwhelmed by taking standardized tests such as the SAT, state mandated end of course or end of the year assessments or the ACT. 67.82% are afraid of failure in regards to many factors, but most certainly, academic issues.”
Constantly being overwhelmed by schoolwork and exams is very stressful, especially when teenagers struggle with time management or focusing. Time management can also be a huge struggle when teenagers have extracurricular activities. When it comes to student-athletes, time management is very important. It is easy to fall behind when teenagers are involved in multiple sports and clubs.
Managing time properly means completing tasks last minute which is a very common issue among student-athletes. Saint John Vianney High School Sophomore Taylor S. said, “Recently, I have been fairly stressed. This is mainly because I tend to procrastinate, but I am also a perfectionist and a busy student-athlete. In between school, sports, and clubs, I only have a certain amount of time to complete my assignments. The more I procrastinate, the more stressed I am.” Teenagers are held to high standards when it comes to academics and athletics which sources high amounts of stress.
While in many situations it feels like there is no end to all the stress, there are various ways to battle it. It is important to participate in the bare minimum which includes eating properly, getting enough sleep, and exercising. It is essential for teens to take breaks from stressful situations to take care of themselves. Taking care of themselves should involve lowering their unrealistic expectations, participating in enjoyable activities, identifying strengths to build on, and finding focus on what they can control.