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Stress in Teenagers: Symptoms & Management

A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) in the year 2014 revealed that teenagers are more likely to suffer from stress than adults, which is quite alarming for the parents. Teen stress is not a rare phenomenon. However, it can and should be dealt with before things get out of control. Although there are countless causes of stress in teenagehood, aka adolescence, they can be easily handled with some patience from the parents. In this article, we will learn about the signs to identity if a teen is stressed and how to deal with it.

What is Teen Stress?

Let’s imagine a scenario where your son/daughter has an important exam like a board exam, and (s)he needs to score no less than a certain percentage to get into a good college. (S)He has exactly a week to prepare for it. Throughout the week, (s)he and probably you as well, are likely to experience anxiety, worrying, increased heart rate, irritability, anger and many such feelings. Just before the examination, your teen might even experience the ‘butterflies-in-the-stomach’ feeling. (S)He is so scared of failing or underperforming that (s)he wants to run away and hide; anything but take that exam.

This is a perfect example of stress. Stress is how the body reacts to demanding and threatening experiences. You feel stressed when you are under pressure to do something or when you are forced to deal with an adverse situation. Stress is exactly what activates the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Identifying Stress in Teenagers

Stress can manifest itself in various ways, but it’s mostly emotional and/or physical. One can easily tell if someone is stressed by the way they behave. These are some of the signs that your teen is stressed –

Stressed teenagers often seem to be agitated, anxious, aloof and/or irritable. They often get aggressive or are overwhelmed from simple things and often feel like helpless and hopeless souls. So the next time your teen snaps at you for no reason, you could know that (s)he is stressed.

Physical Signs

Physical signs of stress may include fatigue, headaches, constipation, nausea, dizziness, palpitations and loss of appetite. Your teen may also lose interest from sports and/or other activities as well. Some teenagers may lose or gain excessive weight while some girls experience abnormal changes in their menstrual cycle.

Behavioural Signs

Your teen may also seem fidgety and display nervous habits such as biting of nails, restlessness, constant moving around and many more. Teens that are in stress often tend to cry a lot, isolate themselves from their friends, show moody behaviour and lack interest in the activities that make them happy.

Cognitive Signs

Stress can oftentimes impact a teen’s cognitive abilities like memory and concentration. You might think that your teen is being careless or is neglecting their daily chores, but for all you know, this might be a sign that they are experiencing stress. Some other cognitive symptoms include inability to think rationally, a negative perspective and poor judgement.

How to Manage Stress?

Unlike what you may think, stress is actually a good motivator for any human being to achieve success in life. However, it is imperative that we manage our stress levels and keep it under control before it takes over the teens’ minds. You can help your teen dealing with the stress using these simple yet effective solutions –

Resting, Relaxing and Rejuvenation

Between schoolwork, social life and home, teenagers often get very little time to rest and rejuvenate. They often tend to stay up late when finishing homework and assignments, leave the house early in the morning and spend a lot of time carrying out either physically or mentally exhausting activities all day long. Relaxation and rejuvenation is the best way to destress the body as well as mind. A full night’s sleep helps the teens to deal with stress better. Power naps between tasks are cherry on the cake.

Physical Activities

Sports are the best ways to relieve stress for teenagers. Nothing beats the stress like a good warmup and a quick football match. Encourage the teens to exercise or take up a sport to keep their bodies and minds healthy.

Healthy Diet Plan

A healthy diet not only keeps the teenagers in good shape but also keeps their brains active and fresh. It’s been proven multiple times that a healthy diet helps in maximising physical as well as cognitive performance of a person.

Parental Support

Dealing with the teenagers can be challenging and tough as it is. They get worse when stress takes over. Instead of yelling at them or getting angry with them when they are experiencing stress, try supporting them emotionally. This will not only help the teenagers deal with the stress better but also strengthen your relationship with them.

Focus on the Positives

Help the teenagers take their stress positively. Stress often makes us look at the things we don’t have and it acts like a motivating factor in life. Teach the teenagers to utilise their stress in achieving their goals and being successful. Turn it into a tool for a better life.

Talk about Stress

Encourage the teenagers to talk about their problems, worries and the things that are adversely affecting their life. Talking acts like a therapeutic session and helps in venting out the negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, anger and sadness. Moreover, talking and discussing the problems also helps in finding out the solutions easier and sooner. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to listen to your teens and their feelings without reacting and see what you can do to make it easier for them.

Doing Things That Make You Happy

Encourage your teens to do things that make them happy. It can be anything from singing, dancing, playing a game or something as simple as reading a book. Let your teen do what (s)he likes to relieve stress.

Keep in mind that nothing can eliminate stress completely. One can only manage their stress and prevent it from taking over their lives. The sooner your adolescents learn to deal with their stress, the better they will become at handling it in their adulthood.