Graduate Research Assistant
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and teenagers are no exception. Adolescence is a time of significant changes, both internal and external, that can contribute to elevated stress levels. The challenges of daily life, combined with the recent global events like the pandemic, have heightened the amount of stress experienced by teens. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 81% of Generation Z teens aged 13-17 have reported experiencing heightened stress levels during recent years following the pandemic. Furthermore, social media and the weight of social, political, and environmental crises that this generation face add to the growing list of teenage stressors.
If stress goes unchecked, it can have a severe impact on both mental and physical health, as well as reduce the overall quality of life. To counter this, it is crucial that teens develop effective stress management skills that they can use throughout their lives. By doing so, they can learn to navigate the challenges of adolescence, and beyond, with greater resilience and well-being.
When stress becomes overwhelming for teenagers, it can have serious consequences. Excessive stress can result in anxiety, aggression, withdrawal, physical illness, and poor coping mechanisms like substance abuse. This is because stress triggers a hormonal response in the body that prepares us to react to danger, called the “fight or flight” response. The fight or flight response results in an increased heart rate, faster breathing, and a release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Other symptoms of stress include:
· Upset Stomach
· Exhaustion and difficulty sleeping
· Irritability and heightened emotions/reactions
· Procrastination and/or neglecting responsibilities
· Withdrawing from friends and family
· Weakened immune system
· Difficulties focusing and concentrating
Conversely, the same process that sparks the stress response can also deactivate it. When a situation is perceived as no longer dangerous, the body can shift into a state of relaxation and calm. This relaxation response results in a decrease in heart rate, slower breathing, and a sense of well-being. With the acquisition of stress management techniques and the cultivation of a calm response, teenagers can experience a greater sense of control and be better equipped to manage stress in a positive manner. Below are some techniques that may help!
· Deep Breathing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYQsRBNYdPk)
· Progressive muscle Relaxation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86HUcX8ZtAk&t=244s)