Advice Column, Health, Tween & Teen Advice

Managing Stress As A Teen

  • Doug Berry
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Tween & Teen Advice

How do we define stress?

Simply put, it’s an emotion… but it’s one of the most damaging and harmful ones we experience if it’s left unchecked! If it’s not addressed, it can affect not only your mental, but your physical health too. Many adults are of the opinion that teens don’t really know what true stress is. They are wrong! Stress is an emotion that can be experienced by new-born babies, toddlers and human beings of all ages. The things that make us stress may differ, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

So, what makes you stress?

Some of the most common factors that teens report as influencing their stress levels are:

Parental expectation: “Did you do well in the test? Are you trying your hardest? I don’t like what you’re wearing. I don’t like how you’re behaving; did you make 1st team? I thought you were a leader…”

Peer pressure: (the old favourite), Ask her out, smoke this, drink that, take one of these, sneak out, study later…

From yourself: I’m too fat, I’m too skinny, I don’t dress properly, I don’t get enough respect, I don’t go out enough, I don’t study hard enough…

Good stress vs bad stress.

It’s important to remember that even though stress is uncomfortable, it’s not always bad. Stress can help us deal with tough situations. A lot of stress changes our bodies quickly and helps us react to an emergency. A little stress keeps us alert and helps us work harder. Unfortunately, a lot of stress is going to make doing these things harder. So, the key is to find a balance between enough and too much.

Stress is a survival tool.

When we are stressed, our brain triggers a hormone release and sends something called Cortisol running through our system. This helpful little guy prepares our body to react to stressors, such as physical danger. Normally, you’d run from danger or fight it, using up that juice in your system. Unfortunately, when we stress ourselves out so much as a result of perceived challenges, we are filling our body with cortisol and often don’t use it to power our behaviour. So what happens? You have this emotional supercharge running through your veins and brain, with nowhere to go, just hanging around causing harm, premature grey hairs and messing with your other hormones.

Manage that stress.

Learn to understand your stress, where it comes from and how to relieve it or avoid it. Ask yourself if there are people or situations in your life that are just not worth the stress and see if you can avoid them. If you can’t, learn to manage their impact on you. Speak to your parents about what motivates you and what stresses you to the point of collapse. If that doesn’t work, take the unknown out of the equation and show them how much work you are doing or can do in a given day. Let them know that you’re already trying your best and need their support instead of pressure. Go for a run, lift a weight, eat properly and sleep better! Know that it’s up to you to change the circumstances that cause you to stress, because once you’ve got that figured out, you can chill.

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