Teenage is the most pivotal period of our lives. It changes your body and mind. For some children, it becomes a struggle, while for others, it seems relatively smooth. Either way, you must help your teen emerge stronger, wiser and more experienced than they started.
It is estimated that the average high school kid these days experiences the same level of anxiety as that of a patient in a mental asylum in the 1950s! While this is a scary statistic, figuring out the common causes of stress and how to deal with them can help you look after your teenaged child better. So, what causes stress in teens?
Here are some of the common causes of stress in teenage life. If your child seems to be struggling with them, the section on dealing with the specific stressor should help them out.
Common Stressors in Teenagers
The instant we hit teenage, we start to feel like grown-up adults - at least in our heads. Friendships begin to change. We begin to recognise our weaknesses and strengths. Hence, the level of comparison and competition shoots up too. Everybody wants to be “cool” and the most sought-after guy or girl in the room - whether in grades, owning the latest gadgets, or for that matter, things as simple as dressing up in a “certain way”. This leads to a lot of social anxiety and stress amongst the kids, compelling them to do things which are way out of the comfort zone of their emotional and mental psyche.
How to Deal With it? Tell your kids that they are the best they can be today, this very day. Never compare them with others. Your support and conviction in them will help them deal with peer pressure.
Body Image Issues
Teenage is the time when the body changes drastically. Your teen's voice is getting hoarse or thin. They are probably accumulating fat in places there never was any! And the funny thing is, the transition is so gradual that you just don’t seem to know when and where it all started. On top of that, they are also going through several hormonal changes.
How to Deal With it? Make sure your child eats healthy and stays hydrated. What they eat now will be the building blocks of their adulthood.
Your teen probably doesn’t agree with everything you tell him. There is a lot of pressure from relatives, neighbours and teachers. Everyone tells them what's “best for you". The worst hit are the kids of helicopter parents.
How to Deal With it? Tell your child this: Listen to what both your heart and head agree with. It’s easy to get into something, sustaining it is the hard part. Hence, when it comes to their career, help them listen to their inner voice and make the right decision.
Matters of the Heart
The only form of love that they’ve experienced to date is that from their parents. Unconditional, wholesome and fulfilling. They don’t know any other way to love and be loved. But it's possible that they have developed intense feelings of deep affection for this person they come across daily in the classroom or elsewhere. It becomes a fresh new relationship the teenager has never had before. They don’t know how people function in such scenarios. The teenager doesn’t even know their highs and lows, yet! It stresses them out as they don’t know what lies ahead. And, if in case their heartbreaks, they don’t know how to deal with that either.
How to Deal With it? It’s difficult. Tell your child to learn to let go. They need to accept the fact that people change. They will meet new people, and when one door closes, there’s bound to be another door somewhere which opens up!
Your teen's relationship with you is the base for all of their other relationships. If a teenager comes from a broken family, wherein the parents have recently divorced, or experienced economic hardships that have in any way affected the quality of life of the teen, say leading to arrangements with reduced privacy, then it will drastically affect their mental peace and stress levels. The teenager not only struggles to sort the already present mess but in addition to it cannot find peace at home either.
How to Deal With it? Adaptation is a way of life. But there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Find a way to let your teen cut yourself out of this madness. Let them indulge in a lot of me time. Encourage them to join clubs where they have like-minded individuals.
Understanding the Ways of the World
The teenager now realises what an evil world it is. The teenagers bring themselves to think that they’d scrape through all of it with their diligence and confidence. But they come across the fact that everybody is not as honest as they were taught to be. They discover that petty politics and favours are being shelled out as a result. It messes with the wirings in their brain. They start to have disagreements with their teachers, parents, friends and even acquaintances because nothing seems clear.
How to Deal With it? Help your teen to learn and update themselves with each passing moment. Inculcate in them new skills. The competition is as cutthroat as it can be. You’ve got to keep track of it all so your child can have a good life.
Sense of Loss
This is also the time when they realise how precious parents and loved ones are to them. But what happens if their best friend, the one who had been with them since forever, broke up with them? The sense of loss becomes too much to handle. They start to feel anxious about attending social functions in school. It becomes stressful in general to be able to deal with people because they fear people won’t accept them anymore.
How to Deal With it? Tell your teens not to be so harsh on themselves. Everybody goes through and faces this sense of loss in their lives. Not everybody is meant to be with you; some are there just to teach you an excellent lesson in life.
Self-doubt & Feeling of Helplessness
They reach a point where they know and can foresee all that is going to unfold. Their trusted companion siding with their foe. Their grades reaching all-time lows. Those skinny jeans which still wouldn’t slip in; they’ve been on a diet for a month now. That toxic feeling of self-doubt seeps in. They feel like they are losing track of themselves. This can be one of the biggest causes of teen stress!
How to Deal With it? Your teen will merely have to live through this phase. All good things come to an end, but they will arrive in a better, more confident place.
Teenagers often feel a lot of stress due to the academic and extra-curricular demands of their troupe. There’s pressure to excel in studies. In the quest to be an all-around individual, teens tend to participate in a lot of social, extra-curricular and curricular activities. If these are competitive, it makes way into the teen’s relaxation time and personal space too. The teen feels the compulsive need to strive and emerge out as the best. Anything below it is like “losing” for them.
How to Deal With it? Explain to your teen that they must give their precious time only to those activities that make them a better individual and are to their liking. There is no need to be a jack of all trades. They should never make the outcome of grades, competition or activities a manifestation of their being.
Depression is not confined to the barriers of sex, age or social scenario. In fact, the most common instances of depression are seen in adolescents. If the teenager is not getting enough attention at home by their parents, they tend to feel neglected and sad. They tend to struggle to make terms with their being. Nothing seems in accordance with them and their mental peace.
How to Deal With it? Talk about it. Most importantly, don’t feel shy or embarrassed in seeking medical help. Anyone can be a victim of depression. The good news is that therapy resolves it completely!
Effects of Stress in Teens
Stress has a lot of negative effects on a teenager's body, mind and our thoughts. Stress that is left unchecked, it can cause a lot of problems for the teenager later in life.
The stress hormone known as cortisol increases the number of fat tissues and expands the size of the fat cells. This leads to increased storage of fats.
Poor Heart Health
According to a study, stress leads to poor functioning of the heart. The authors of this study, cardiologists at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital conclude that stress increases the risk of heart attacks risk because of an overactive amygdala in the brain. The amygdala is the brain’s fear centre. Traumatic or stressful events can lead to a chain of reactions that might result in hyperactivity in the brain’s fear centre which can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Stressful events can put the brain in a state of hyperarousal. Following a fixed sleep routine can help ease this.
Chemicals that are released due to stress, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can cause a tension headache or a migraine.
Stress can contribute to alopecia areata, a condition that leads to patches of hair loss in the scalp. A survey conducted on 25 women further proved that stress speeds up the process of hair loss.
Increased Blood Sugar
Numerous studies show that high-stress levels are linked to high blood sugar.
Stress leads to a variety of digestive issues such as heartburn, stomach cramping, diarrhoea and the irritable bowel syndrome.
Elevated Blood Pressure Levels
Stressful events can raise blood by thinning the blood vessels. According to recent results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of America, stress can cause hypertension through repeated blood pressure elevations as well as by stimulation of the nervous system to produce large amounts of vasoconstricting hormones that increase blood pressure.
Stress can contribute to acne; breakouts are often seen when teens are under stress, be it due to exams or otherwise.
Stress Management for Teens
Since adolescence and puberty is such a tough time, almost all teenagers go through many social as well as bodily changes. However, it also is a crucial time in the development of the child. Thus, stress management for teenagers is crucial.
WATCH: What Aggravates stress in Teenagers How to Deal With It?
Do the following to combat stress
Acknowledge your deepest thoughts, write them down or talk about it to someone.
Make sure you get enough sleep and eat healthy food as well.
Get some exercise, go easy on yourself and save some time for indulging in hobbies.
Here are some tips for stress management that parents can keep in mind.
Talk to your child, make sure he isn’t alone. Children are often afraid of talking to their parents. Assume a friendly approach to get your child talking. Not only will you be able to offer solutions and viewpoints to your child’s problems but also bond better with him.
Help you, child, to get enough exercise or physical activity. Physical activity releases the ‘feel good hormone’ dopamine, makes you happier and lowers pain sensitivity.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Ideally, teenagers should get nine hours of sleep at night.
Help him take out time for his hobbies and for doing what he loves. This will provide your child with just the right amount of happiness to function efficiently in a stressful environment as well.
Focus on their strengths and appreciate their efforts. This goes a long way while dealing with failure.
How to Keep the Stress Factor in Check?
If parents do not help their kids cope with stress, it may lead to the child having personality disorders or panic and anxiety attacks and can gradually sink into a depression. To avoid that, you can do the following.
Be aware of your child’s behaviour and problems. Acknowledge the fact that his problems are grave enough and need to be tended to.
Encourage healthy and diverse friendships. Most kids do not feel very comfortable sharing their problems with their parents or even a therapist. At such times, having a friend or a confidant may solve the problem.
Encourage your child to limit his social media use. Not only is extended screen time harmful, but it also spares little time for indulging in hobbies or physical activity.
If you see signs of anxiety or stress in your child, make sure that you do take efforts to help your child manage it.
Now that you know what is teenage stress and what aggravates it make sure you treat your teenager gently.
Do you have a teenaged child? How do you help them deal with the stress?