Knock Out Your Stress: Stress and Teens

iStock_000024398187MediumAre you or do you know a teen who is exhibiting signs of stress?  If so, you’re not alone.  According to an article in USA Today about a recent study performed by the American Psychological Association on teenage stress, 27% of US teens experienced an extreme stress level this past year1.  Another 55% indicated they had a moderate stress level and only 18% described their stress level as low.  The results also indicated that girls in particular exhibited higher stress levels and were more likely to be affected by stress than boys.  Girls cited social factors like their appearance(68%) and social media image(39%) as stressors and felt less confident than boys in their stress management skills.  Across both genders, the teens were handling their stress in unhealthy ways like watching TV or playing video games.

So how can we disrupt this alarming and unhealthy trend of high stress in teens?  The first step is recognizing the signs of stress in your teen.  If your teen is acting differently than normal and seems to be more despondent or irritable than usual, they may be experiencing an issue that is causing increased stress levels.  Try to encourage your teen to engage in healthy activities that can reduce stress like yoga, hiking, or creative activities like art or writing.  Try to limit “screen time” when possible.   As the results of the study show, teens are more likely to use the internet as a stress management tool, but social media is actually a cause of stress for many teens.

It’s important to recognize high stress levels in your teen, but also to realize that some stress is normal and healthy.   By recognizing when your teen is stressed, you can steer them toward healthy stress management tools.  If you feel your teen’s behavior has changed drastically or that they may be considering suicide, contact a licensed therapist in your area for immediate counseling.

1 Jayson, Sharon.  “Teens feeling stressed and many not managing it well.” USA Today. February 11, 2014.  Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/11/stress-teens-psychological/5266739/ on February 25, 2014.