What stresses a youth?
This blog highlights stress management for youth. As long as we are alive, we all have stress. There goes a false assumption of parents that if their child does not have bills to pay or chores and responsibilities, their child is living a stress-free life.
But the truth is, adolescence is an incredibly stressful time of life. Teenagers experience a myriad of different issues resulting in stress. Teen stressors appear insignificant to parents only because they're looking at these problems with an adult mind. youth, however, are getting a hang of handling life issues, which impact their mental and physical health as well.
The first step in stress management is identifying the stressful life events that cause them.
The common stressors are:
We all have different learning styles, interests, and strengths. Unfortunately, School is a standard structure that doesn't take these differences into consideration. And when it doesn't embrace the youth' strengths, values or creativity, they tend to be more stressed out. At school there is a range of academic pressure we feel- derived from a need for perfection, worry over grades, exams, parental pressure, homework, assignments, competition, sports, or a tough class load. It's like a pressure cooker in here, no doubt, school is tough. And no matter what goals we have, we all struggle with a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. In which stress management becomes difficult to deal with.
Parents and home environment can also add up to teen stress.
- High expectations of parents often turn out to be a hurdle in teenagers’ life. Out of love, parents want their youth to excel in everything. While the idea is nice, it certainly is, an unrealistic expectation.
- After-school activities are important, but become a stressor when parents expect their youth to be involved in too many or expect them to win in every match or tournament they take part. Winning boosts confidence and self-esteem. But it should always be kept in mind that participating and enjoying is much more important than winning. And, it’s important for youth to have some free, unscheduled time each week where they can do whatever they want.
- Stressed parents do transfer their stress on to their youth. If they are frequently stressed, it’s reflected in how they treat their teen. The unpredictable behaviour may leave them worried and anxious since they don’t know what to expect next. Likewise, if the parents are emotionally unavailable to them, they may feel neglected and worthless. These feelings increase stress levels as they try to get their parent’s attention, only to fail each time.
Pressures of social life:
Social roles or relations become an important part of a teen’s life.
- Peer Groups: Peer pressure, not getting along with friends, and worrying about fitting in causes a significant amount of stress in youth. If they sense the peer group is unreliable or disrespectful, it increases their stress levels as they feel pressured to impress the social group. Their physical changes and feelings of awkwardness add up to their worries and stress levels.
- Relationships: With the onset of puberty, youth start to have romantic relationships - or not, both the states are equally stressful for youth. Also, evolving friendships and peer relationships cause stress.
- Tryouts: youth often take their first more prominent social roles, either by hosting a party or going on a first date, which are also found to stress them out.
What kind of thinking does your teen engage in? - It’s not too tough to find out. Pay attention to your teen’s actions and words as they reflect what’s going on inside their head. It’s often too much going on in their mind- Keeping up with time, deadlines, feeling unprepared, doing more than one thing at a time, etc. These all may result in a lack of proper diet and adequate sleep, and most importantly, an enormous amount of stress.
Signs that you are stressed:
Sometimes stress can build up before you even know it and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Here are some ways to recognize stress before it takes over.
- You eat standing up.
- You’re always late.
- Fighting more than usual
- Always feel tired.
- Forgetting what day it is.
- Have trouble finishing a sentence.
- Doing three things at once; you don't finish any of them.
- Losing patience very easily.
- Sleep issues.
- Keep getting sick.
- Keep dropping things.
- Biting your nails, tap your feet, and twirl your hair. All at the same time.
- Feeling like you're drowning.
- Jumping when the phone rings.
- Have a headache. Again.
- Your palms are sweaty.
- Your heart is racing.
- You feel nervous or jumpy.
- Nothing seems fun anymore.
- You talk too fast. You can't concentrate.
- It's always someone else's fault.
- People keep asking: "Are you okay?"
- You wonder if you are okay.
How to combat teen stress:
Some youth become overloaded with stress. When it happens, inadequately stress lead to anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, physical illness, poor coping skills and may lead to drug and/or alcohol use.
When we perceive a situation as difficult or painful, changes occur in our minds and bodies which prepares us to respond to danger. This "fight, flight, or freeze” response includes faster heart and breathing rate, increased blood to muscles of arms and legs, cold or clammy hands and feet, upset stomach and/or a sense of dread, etc.
How parents can help their youth:
- Listen carefully to your youth and watch for overloading
- Monitor if stress is affecting your teen's health, behavior, thoughts, or feelings.
- Help your teen to decide what is within his control and what isn’t: youth nowadays are often involved in multiple activities. Parents can help them learn to pace themselves by identifying which activities are likely to be helpful and which could be detrimental. Give them some lesser responsibilities. This can make them take of the pressure which paves the way for perfect stress management.
- Help them to find stress relieving distractions:
Help your teen to figure out how he can incorporate fun, stress-relieving activities into his day, week, and month. No matter what it is or how briefly he does it, enjoyable activities provide a fantastic distraction for the brain, which can relieve stress.
- Learn and model stress management skills
- Help your teen find time for relaxation:
Relaxation looks a bit different for everyone. Some youth find it relaxing to sit with their pet dog for a few minutes with no other distractions. Others might like to try closing their eyes, taking deep breaths, and sit in silence. Or maybe, a walk alone. It might take a little trial and error to find something that sticks, but encouraging your teen to find something that quiets the mind in the heat of the moment can serve them well now and even later in life.
And lastly, be a good role model for your teen: Whether they like to admit it or not, but youth do learn from their parents. And one of the best ways to teach them stress management techniques is by setting a good example.
Few Stress Management techniques for youth:
- Slow Down: What you cannot do/finish today, do not stress yourself too much about it. Take out some time, breathe, relax. A few minutes away from the problem can help. In that time, you can find something to laugh, play, take a bath, listen to music, play some instrument, etc.
- Exercise: Do you know that one of the best ways to deal with stress is exercise? One of the best stress-reducing benefits of exercise is that it is fun. Choose the type of activity that will help you to relieve your stress. But choose according to your personality and lifestyle. If you usually like to do quiet activities, vigorous exercise may be best. If you are an active person, calming exercise may be better.
- Get Plenty of Rest, Eat Well: Do not skip your meals, eat your breakfast and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Do not eat too much junk and drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. Get enough sleep. Because not getting much sleep can give you bad skin, make you clumsy and emotional, and make it hard to concentrate
- Discuss your problems: Don't feel alone, chances are that there will be other people too, who feel the same way. Ask for help. If you feel too much stressed, talk to your parents, siblings, a friend, or a counselor.