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Stressay – An Essay About Stress from a Teenage Perspective

Teen Stress diagram showing student worried in front of chalkboard

How To Help with Teenage Stress

We've all felt stressed. The fear-inducing burden of stress makes hearts race and palms sweat. Stress can be hard to put into words, but the definition is "a specific response by the body to a stimulus, which disturbs the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism." That’s a mouthful.

I think of stress as the weight that sits on my shoulders, the presence of an impending disaster or deadline that lurks just around the corner. It’s the race to get everything done before life completely falls apart in slow motion, unable to be stopped.

Most are familiar with this specific feeling because stress builds like a snowball and is not biased with regards to whom it victimizes.

Teenage stress, however, can be uniquely challenging.

My stress, the stress of an average teenager, is the weight of countless expectations. It comes from teachers and parents. It comes from friends and peers. Most significantly, it comes from me.

My stress, after all, is watching the screen of our cell phones because we live in an era where missing a tweet is worse than missing a meal.

My stress is the time and energy it takes to do my hair and choose my outfits and hide my face under makeup.

My stress is the panic that sets in when I wake up and realize there is a test today and have the thought, “I’m dead if I don’t get an A.” 

My stress is the mirror hanging on the wall, showing me a reflection I wish I didn't have to see.

My stress is the look on other’s faces as I walk the halls of that terrifying place called high school.

These teenage years are full of stress and anxiety. As teenagers, we are expected to take on the responsibilities of an adult, even though we only know how to handle things as a child. There is no easy solution to this complicated life transition. The result is an overly burdened adolescent walking around with something they don’t know how to carry.

As we're working to find our place in the world and experiencing the growing pains of a brain that is still developing, we can be stubborn, moody, and even rebellious. These are natural and the added stress of academic, social and family expectations can create negative feedback loops.

Please remember that when you talk to us and about us. Your words can help us or they can hurt us. They can offer compassion and sympathy or they can pile on stress and anxiety.

Plus, your parents once said the same things about you.

What can parents and loved ones do to help teenagers with stress and anxiety?

So how are you, as parents, friends or family supposed to deal with the overwhelming amount of teenage hormones combined with stress?

There are a few ways that have helped me.

Encourage us to take time for physical activity, whether it is a walk, a Sunday afternoon yoga session or a bike ride. Make it a family activity. You may experience some resistance at first, but you'll be amazed by how much better everyone will feel afterward. With the many social and academic pressures compounding, we sometimes forget about taking care of our physical health and wellbeing. Additionally, getting outside into nature can help us be more mindful - something we can use more of.

Help us get enough sleep. Experts recommend that people in their teenage years get about 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep each night. I can speak for many in our age range when I say that is not happening. Try to help your teenagers plan their night so they complete homework, sneak in some socializing, all while still getting to bed at a reasonable time.

The absolute best way for you to help your teenager deal with stress is to simply show your support. You may get mad at them for having a messy room or failing that last test, but they are juggling a lot and are trying their best to navigate the pressure that's coming from all directions.

Show your teen that you’re in their corner.

Show them you’re proud of what they’ve done and you’re there for them. Simple reassurance can melt away layers of stress, because no matter what we say or do, in the end, we're trying to become people we're proud of and you're proud of.


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