According to a 2014 American Psychological Association study, findings show that teens in the U.S. are even more stressed than adults. A certain amount of stress is normal and can actually have benefits. However, when teens are exposed to repeated stressful events without the tools to manage feelings, stress can become emotionally and physically toxic. School tends to be the top source of stress for teens.
Some causes of stress in teens:
- Earning good grades
- Preparing for college
- Romantic relationships
- Social acceptance
- Parental pressure
- Significant life changes
Symptoms of stress and what to watch for:
- Nausea/digestive issues
- Skipping meals or overeating
- Sadness or depression
- Cutting class
- Sleep problems
- Substance abuse
- Chronic worrying
- Isolating from friends and family
- Ignoring chores/school work
- Frequent absences
- Lying to teachers/parents
- Withdrawal from friends
- Frequent physical aches and pains
- Not doing things that used to be fun
- Quick to anger
- Failing grades
- Suicidal thoughts
How can I help my student manage and reduce his or her stress?
Below are some tips to help you manage and reduce your students’ stress. Helping them take control of their life is the foundation for stress management and a healthier teen.
Be sure that your student is taking tests at the regularly scheduled times
Missing regularly scheduled final exams is stressful for students and faculty. Scheduling vacations or appointments during finals week should be avoided. Students who take final exams after returning from Christmas break are not able to maximize their potential to do well.
Don’t overschedule your student
School and extracurricular activities are important, but there’s a point when it’s too much. When you schedule your week, schedule it for school work and extracurricular activities, but also schedule down-time and time to have fun.
Ensure the right amount of sleep
Between school work and activities, it can be hard for your teen to get enough sleep, especially during the school week. Ideally, adolescents should receive 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is the key to physical and emotional well-being. Help your student cut back on watching TV or engaging in a lot of screen time in the late evening hours. Also, cut back on caffeine (especially those Dutch Bros drinks) late in the day and reduce stimulating activities close to bedtime.
Serve a healthy diet
When we are feeling stressed, we often want to reach for “comfort foods.” These high-fat foods are usually the worst possible choices because they can make us feel lethargic and less able to deal with stress. The best solution is to incorporate a balanced diet of low-fat, high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Incorporate exercise into the day
Physical activity is one of the most effective stress relievers. Help your student find an activity they enjoy and encourage them to build it into their daily routine.
As parents, modeling appropriate self-care can be a daunting task. With the pressures we face, sometimes it’s difficult to handle our own stress. Take some time to also use the above tips and find a healthy balance in your own life.
Our counselors are always willing to help your student find a healthy balance with school and stress and can help your student process their emotions and learn coping skills. Additional community referrals are available for situations requiring more in-depth counseling.