|I'm So Stressed!: Helping Your Teen Cope|
Teens are increasingly stressed in today’s society. Between 8 to10 percent of children and teens have an anxiety disorder and about 25% of teens use avoidance tactics to deal with their stress issues. (www.teenhelp.com) Having an argument with a friend, testing for a driver’s license, misplaced keys, fumbling the ball, forgetting homework, being pressured at a party, taking the S.A.T., losing a loved one…these are only a few of the many stressors your adolescent may face. Starting the school year can be especially stressful.
Pressure comes from everywhere; it comes from sources within us and from external sources we can’t control. Some stressors are minor inconveniences, like the loss of keys, while others are life altering like the loss of a loved one. Unlike these stressors, some pressures are welcomed and the changes they bring are positive such as winning a game or getting a driver’s license. These stressors are known as eustress. Eustress can be defined as “stress that is healthy or gives one a feeling of fulfillment” (www.wikipedia.org). These stressors produce positive changes in a teen’s life and gives them the energy required to perform well on a big test or game. However, distress is the most commonly referred to type of stress and it has negative implications. In Bartam’s Medical Dictionary, stress is defined as “any factor that threatens the health of the body or has an adverse effect on its functioning…the existence of one form of stress tends to diminish resistance to other forms.”
Interestingly, both eustress and distress are equally taxing on the body and can cumulate to be harmful. Moderate eustress is good for you because it increases motivation. However, too much stress hurts performance while too little stress can leave a person feeling unmotivated. The effect of each stressor a teen faces is multi-dimensional and is impacted by the following: the severity, the number of stressors recently experienced, temperament, past history with successfully managing stress, the strength of the positive relationships in their life, and personal feelings of self confidence. Prolonged stress can result in numerous physical and psychological issues such as becoming more susceptible to illness after prolonged stress. Author Michael Gurian explains that in girls, higher cortisol levels (stress hormones) make girls more vulnerable to overt depression, self-cutting, and eating disorders (The Wonder of Girls, 2002, p.198 ). As you consider what you can do about the stress in your teen’s life, it is important to pay attention to what leads them to feel stressed.
Teaching your teen to better manage the daily stressors in life is critical to better emotional, physical, spiritual, and social health. Stress management not only creates a healthier view of the world, but it also increases your teen’s self confidence which makes healthy relationships more possible and probable. Start encouraging your teen to take some deep breaths, take a jog, drink some decaf java, and get together with some positive friends!
Is stress affecting your teen in any of the following ways?
Sleeping problems, exhaustion, agitation
Upset stomach, ulcers
Irritability, mood swings
Chest pain, high blood pressure
Depression, anxiety, excessive worrying
Answering the following questions with your teen may be helpful:
What is stressful to you?
How does stress affect you?
When are you most vulnerable to stress?
When is stress good for you?
Tips for your teen! (Maybe a few for you too!)
Never skip meals, especially breakfast!
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday and take naps when possible.
Drink plenty of water.
Eat healthy foods, cut back on caffeine, and never use illegal substances.
Exercise and use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, or yoga daily.
Carry a tape recorder or notepad instead of relying on your memory.
Plan for fun time.
Get organized so you can delegate effectively.
Recognize your limitations and set your own limits accordingly.
Set limits on what you take on and what others ask of you.
Plan for the unexpected by allotting extra time in your schedule.
Reframe your thoughts and situations more positively.
Use time spent waiting in traffic, lines, or waiting rooms to relax.
Recognize what you can and cannot change.
Build strong positive relationships.
Make a list of self affirmations and repeat them daily.
Discuss your persistent concerns about your stress with a mentor, physician, or counselor.
adapted from the Human Resources Department
of John Hopkins University and Margin (1992) by Richard Swenson, M.D.
|Last Updated on Monday, 13 April 2009 11:30|