The Many Reasons for Stress in Teens
- Academic pressure is the major triggering factor in generating stress and anxiety. Teenagers may worry about meeting academic demands, peer pressure, being scolded by parents on grades, being judged by their friends on low scores, and being rejected by universities. At times, even high-performing students become stressed from competition or pressure to get into the best colleges.
- Poor time management skills, exams, heavy workload, and a feeling of being overwhelmed also contribute to the academic stress. In particular, when students are not taught how to cope with failure effectively, they can become demotivated and start doubting themselves.
- Over and above these issues, teens also face significant social pressure which can cause stress. Nowadays, the society has become very judgemental and constantly puts pressure on teens, by telling them that they are too young to know what is right in their decision making. The main cause of social stress is failure because it leads to a loss of self-esteem and social standing. Today’s teens often feel lost and have a scrambled sense of direction. This ends up building an identity crisis or a loss of interest. There is also the anxiety of making the wrong decision, especially when it comes to deciding what to study in college.
- Sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to get stressed. This is so, because, sleeping less than a regular 8 hours a day increases the level of stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. Thus, regular good sleep is necessary to overcome teenage stress.
- Family related issues such as troubled relationships, problems with unrealistic expectations, unhealthy sibling relationships, ailments and financial problems in the family can all trigger teen stress.
- Apart from all this, traumatic life events can also induce stress in teenagers. Death of a family member or a friend, mishaps, illness, or experiencing emotional or physical abuse can create a lasting impression on teen stress levels.
- Yet another reason is a significant and overwhelming change in a teenager's lifestyle that can also lead to anxiety and tension such as change in residence or cities.
Signs of Teenage Stress
If your child is feeling stressed, you might see some changes in his behaviour, body language, emotions, and the way of thinking and perceiving things. For instance, your child may refuse to take part in activities, sleeps too much or too little, behave aggressively, drink more caffeine products, do overeating or undereating, take pain killers and use alcohol or other drugs.
You may also observe changes in your child's emotions. For example, he may act cranky, moody and cry, or feel sad, tired or hopeless. He may exhibit random mood swings, and seem down, cut off from friends, find it hard to relax or switch off, especially from social media, and become anxious on small things.
Sometimes you might also see physical signs of stress. Your child might feel sick; headaches, shoulder pain, stomach ache, back pain, etc. He may show a sudden weight gain or loss, get panic attacks, feel dizzy, or alteration in the hormonal balance. Stress can affect your child’s thinking process too. You might notice that your child is finding it hard to concentrate and stay focused. Moreover, he is having trouble remembering things, organising, planning or making decisions.
Things Teenagers Can Do to Reduce Stress
A healthy diet is very essential for a healthy lifestyle. It provides the body with all the essential nutrients required to run efficiently. A balanced diet contains all the vital elements that provide the energy needed for all kinds of physical activities. If your child does not eat healthy food and constantly relies on junk food, he may feel sick. This is so, because, there is a chance that his blood sugar levels may fall which may lead to medical conditions like stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Junk foods are loaded with carbs and fats that can produce certain chemical reactions in the brain which alter its normal functioning. By consuming too much junk food, eventually leads to the inability of the brain to deal with stress and can leave the child feeling depressed. Thus, eating a balanced diet prevents him from a number of medical as well as physical problems.
Practice Relaxation Skills
When a person is stressed, the body responds by releasing hormones that raise blood pressure and increase the heart rate. This is called the stress response. Relaxation therapy can aid your child's body to calm down and lower the blood pressure and heart rate. It reduces stress and the symptoms of other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Various relaxation techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, exercising, yoga, etc. Massage therapy is also very beneficial in reducing teenage stress. This is so, because, it eases out the tension from the muscles and releases the happy hormones. It does not matter which relaxation technique you choose. You only have to help your teen to try to practise relaxation regularly to get most of its benefits.
Try Deep Breathing
One of the best stress buster is deep breathing. It helps by calming the body, relaxing the muscles and easing the tension and stress. Breathing in and out helps to release stress by relaxing the mind. In addition to all that, when a person breathes deeply, it sends a message to the brain to calm down and relax. Furthermore, it increases the supply of oxygen to the brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. For deep-breathing, it is recommended to breathe the oxygen into the belly and slowly exhale the carbon dioxide, with the eyes closed, and the mind fully relaxed, concentrating on the breathing. The teen should try to breathe with his nostrils naturally.
For this purpose, he should place one hand on his belly, and the other hand on his chest. Next, for about 4 seconds, take a deep breath before exhaling it out for 3 seconds. After this, breathe out for 4 seconds and repeat. Make sure that the hand he has have put on his belly goes in when he takes in the oxygen, and move out when he exhales. This will greatly help to reduce stress and anxiety in a short time.
Talk It Out – With Friends or Seek Professional Help
Another thing that your child can try in order to reduce stress is to talk to his friend or someone who has gone through a similar situation. He can discuss his thoughts, issues and feelings. Having a chat with a confidant or a loved one will be extremely soothing and will help to ease out. Furthermore, pouring his heart out with what is disturbing him, can help with releasing the tension within and improving his mental health. Letting his feelings out will provide him with a sense of mental peace and will calm him down.
In case he does not have a friend or a family member to talk to, you can schedule a visit to a psychologist. A professional and trusted mental health practitioner will help him to release the stress by assisting him to find what is disturbing him and, thus will help him to get rid of it.
Give Meditation a Try
Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. It helps many people connect to a place of inner strength. During meditation, a person tends to focus his attention and eliminate cluttered thoughts that may be disturbing his mental peace and causing stress. Meditation has also proven to help in enhancing physical and emotional well-being. Various studies have shown that people find 15 minutes optimal, but literally, even 5 minutes of meditation is beneficial. Teenage is a stressful phase of life because of the parental, peer, and societal pressure, thus, a teenager needs to practice meditation in order to restore the body to a calm state.
Set Aside Some "Me-Time"
Another effective method your child can give a try is spending some quality time with himself. It is suggested to take out some time from his busy day and spend it doing something he likes and enjoys. For instance, he can read a novel, watch a movie, write his diary, or any other hobby he likes. Time. This will help him to get rid of the cluttered thoughts, thereby providing him relaxation and getting back to everyday life with a clearer and calmer mind.
Sleep Well and Preferably Early
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. It helps to calm the body by relieving tension and reducing the levels of stress hormones. Sleep also allows the brain to recharge and the body to rest. If a person does not sleep well or enough, his body does not get the full benefits of sleep like muscle repair and memory consolidation. Studies have shown that teens who are experiencing high stress during the school years are those who are getting too little sleep.
Furthermore, sleeping early and following a regular sleep schedule calm and restores the body, enhances concentration, improves the mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making. Most teenagers need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Also, practicing a regular and good sleep pattern sharpens the memory and reduces the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and boosts the immune system.
Physical activity may help boost the production of happy hormones and reduces cortisol levels. Exercise pumps up the endorphins levels that ease the stress levels, and, give the person a sense of command over his body. Additionally, it can provide stress relief for his body while imitating the effects of the flight or fight response, and supports the body and its systems. This can also generate positive effects in his body, including the cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems by guarding the body against the harmful effects of anxiety. In addition to all that, it improves the mood, raises the self-confidence level, and helps him to relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, it can also enhance his sleep quality, which is often disturbed by stress, depression and anxiety. Your child is also suggested to practice yoga to boost his mood and overall sense of well-being. Practicing yoga may lead to enhance balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength.
Stress Relieving Foods for Teenagers
Dark chocolate may have an immediate effect on reducing anxiety and stress. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and other beneficial substances that have proven to ease emotional stress and reduce other risk factors like heart disease and physical conditions, etc. Various studies have shown that cocoa contains flavonoids that have the capability to change the brain frequency, and thus decrease stress levels. Daily consumption of dark chocolate has shown a significant modification not only in the metabolism but the whole body. Because dark chocolate has an extremely high polyphenol content, it may help to reduce oxidative stress and combat free radicals.
Furthermore, it lowers the adrenaline rate and boosts the mood, while improving brain functioning and alleviating stress and anxiety. It also contains ingredients like phenylethylamine and serotonin, which are considered to be mood boosters and provide pleasure. Apart from stress and anxiety, it lowers the rate of diabetes and supports the immune system as well.
Herbal teas are very effective in reducing stress and anxiety. They help by increasing the serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, thereby inducing sleep, and providing a calming effect. Furthermore, herbal teas help to relieve tension by soothing headaches and muscle aches associated with stress and anxiety. In addition to all that, herbal teas contain organic and natural ingredients that reduce cortisol levels and leave a person feeling relaxed without feeling drowsy.
All the teas contain natural herbs that have sweet and light fragrances which help to calm the nervous system and soothe digestion. Herbal teas relax the mind and body by alleviating tension and tightness in the muscles. They also lower the breathing and heart rate and reduce mild anxiety and stress. Your child can give chamomile tea, green tea, lavender tea, peppermint and black tea a try for this purpose.
Fruits are rich in magnesium, which is known to make a person feel calmer. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, etc. combat oxidative stress by lowering the cortisol levels. Furthermore, strawberries contain vitamin C which helps ease anxiety levels.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts your immune system and provides a soothing effect. In addition to all that, bananas are a rich source of potassium, vitamin B, folate and vitamin B6, which raises the production of serotonin, which can help improve the mood and reduce anxiety. For an extra stress-busting boost, your child can top bananas with almonds, peanuts, or cashew butter. Other than that, fruits that are rich in zinc, for instance, avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, raspberries, guavas, apricots, peaches, kiwi fruit, blueberries, etc. have been linked to lowered anxiety levels.
Teenage Years are the Most Important Phase in Your Child's Life
There is no doubt that the teenage years are the most important phase in your child's life and the same should not be marred by stress, worries and pressure. We hope this BP Guide would have helped you understand everything there is to know about teenage stress and how various positive actions can help relieve the stress that your teenage child may be going through. Stay connected with us for more such engaging content.