It is not difficult to guess that our teens are under tremendous amount of stress not just to be the best in studies but in extracurricular activities also. With fragile economy and statistics after statistics indicating that youth unemployment on the rise, these teens must not follow their hearts in the profession of choice but also consider realities of earning living. On top of that South Asian parents expect these teens to navigate between the two worlds, the world inside the home which is bound by certain traditions, values and culture, and the world at school where these teens struggle to fit in.
In Baltimore, teens were interviewed as part of a study “Confronting Teen Stress, Meeting the Challenge in Baltimore City”, which looked at levels of teen stress. The following is some of the results. Five stressors were:
- school work (68%),
- parents (56%)
- friends’ problems (52%),
- romantic relationships (48%), and
- drugs in the neighborhood (48%)”.
The study also looked at how the teenagers coped with their stress. For boys approximately
- 25% avoided or refused to deal with their stress,
- 23% sought ways to distract themselves away from their stress,
- 17% sought support, and
- 35% actively tried to reduce their stress.
On the other hand, when it came to the girls, approximately
- 19% avoided or refused to deal with their stress,
- 14 % sought ways to distract themselves away from their stress,
- 22% sought support, and
- 45% actively tried to remove or reduce their stress.
In summary, boys more often used the tools of avoidance and distraction while girls looked for support and actively tried to reduce their stress. Girls also said they experienced more stress then boys, stemming largely from their relationships with boys and friendships with girls. Boys attributed their stress to authority figures, (i.e. teachers). The study suggested that stress management programs should separate girls and boys for some of the activities, since their answers were so different. The study also recommended that programs should teach girls and boys how to react in a healthy manner towards stress. Avoidance and aggression can be unhealthy while exercise and keeping a journal concerning your stress are healthy outlets.
More and more cities and school districts are starting to look at teen stress. Some are developing programs for teachers and families to help determine stressful situations and how to teach healthy stress relieving tactics.
Here’re some ways to avoid stress:
- Sleep regularly for at least 10 hours a night
- Eat properly and exercise daily
- Cut the caffeine (it increases stressful feelings)
- Always avoid drugs, tobacco and alcohol
- Finding your own personal and safe way to unwind (hiking, exercising, eating a favorite healthy treat, doing a craft, playing games, working on a puzzle, etc.)
Other teen stress diffusers include
- Relaxation breathing: Take two minutes to breathe slowly in and out, relax your body with each breath, conclude breathing and stand and stretch.
- Listen to relaxing music
- Write in your journal the day’s events. Be detailed as your journal can be a sounding board for your frustrations.
- Pray or read inspirational words
Do something for someone else