Everyone experiences stress. It is a constant within our society and controls so many elements of life that many are naive to. Teenagers are not immune to this. Today is Stress Awareness Day (4th November 2020), and we feel this is an appropriate time to spread awareness of the many potential stresses a teenager may face and the affects of this. According to research done by ReachOut.com the main causes of stress in teenagers are: peer pressure (from friends, family, in relationships), homework and school, life challenges (such as leavings school or finding employment). Along with this, teens (and with the rest of the world) could face increased mental health issues due to the added stresses of Covid-19 in the current climate.
Why do teens get stressed?
Peer pressure is prevalent in teenage years, with many teenagers influenced by those around them. Teens often, and only naturally, feel the need to be accepted by others, especially their peers. This pressure to be accepted by others, whether its into the “popular” group at school or into their desired sports team , often causes an increased amount of stress. Not only to they have the pressure to “fit in” but they often put an increased about of pressure on themselves to behave a certain way in order to be accepted.
Smoking and drinking alcohol are, sadly, becoming part of the stereotypical teenage experience. This is partly because, due to peer pressure, many teens are influenced into believing smoking and drinking is necessary in order to have friends or be in a certain friendship group. Our show Last Orders touches on this, along with the dangers of abusing alcohol. Alcohol and drugs are a further issue as many teens may turn them as as a form of relief from overwhelming stress, therefore, it is important that teens are educated on the danger using these substances both recreationally or as a form of stress relief.
Romantic relationships are also a common cause of stress for teens. Around 75% of girls and 50% of boys reporting some form of emotional relationship abuse (HealthyChildren.org). This could be because of the peer pressure many teens experience to be in a relationship at a certain age. Our production Power of Love aims to educate students on the forms of an abusive relationship as well as how they can develop. In having students witness this unfold, in show form, we hope that they gain knowledge on how to help themselves or those around them.
The affect of Covid-19
There is currently added stresses in the world due to situation with Covid-19 and the uncertainty that comes with it. With multiple lockdowns and the many changes to schools and school-life, its not surprising that many teens are left feeling worried about completing school work, exams and when they will have the opportunity to socialise with peers. On top of this, they also have the added concern of how this changes may affect their future. Being unable to socialise as often has led to many teens experiencing an increased sense of loneliness and depression, in turn making them feel an added stress.
The affects of stress
Stress can have many affects, including further mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can affect the day-to-day life of many people, with both emotional and physical side effects. It may even prevent teens from attending social events or make going to school even more challenging. In addition to this, the current changes being made as a reaction to Covid-19 have had negative affects on the mental health of many adolescents. Being unable to socialise as they typically would, could cause many to become withdrawn or feel isolated.
However, it is important to note that for some people lockdown has not been a negative experience. Many teens could have used lockdown to their advantage by improving their skills, concentrating on school work or gaining a new hobby.
How can we help?
Being aware and sympathetic towards the stresses that everyone faces is important. It is essential that everyone (not just teenagers) feel comfortable in expressing their own experiences and knowing there is support for them and when and where to get it. Our shows aim to instigate a conversation with students about their own emotions and experiences, along with, what they can do to help others.
Teens are not alone in the emotions and stresses they may be experiencing and it is essential they are aware of this. Stress awareness is necessary as it sparks a conversation that allows for individuals’ to realise that there is always support for them. This could include: opening up to parent, visiting a GP or speaking to a professional that can provide additional support . No matter how someone chooses to cope with their stress, it is essential to know that no one is alone in battling stress and there is always support available to make it more manageable.
10 ways to reduce stress for teens
- Speak to somebody you trust about how you feel
- Enjoy a walk
- Write down your feelings
- Try to eat healthier & delicious food
- Do something you love (reading, drawing, listening to music, meditation, cooking)
- Be kind to yourself (Its ok to feel the way you do)
- Prioritise Self-Care
- Have fun exercising
- Have a break from social media
- Get enough rest
Coping with Stress-