teen stressAll of us, young and old, experience stress at certain times in our lives. It’s how much stress we encounter and how we deal with it that can determine whether or not it’s a problem. Adolescence can be a time of extreme stress, and many teens need help learning how to manage it.

Stress, otherwise known in more medical terms as the “flight or fight” response, increases our heartbeats, speeds our metabolism, and heightens our awareness. A little stress can be good, keeping us in tune with our surroundings. If these stressors last for long periods of time, though, they can keep us in a constant state of tension. They begin to wear on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.

What is She Stressed About?

What’s stressful for one teen may not bother another teen at all. For this reason, pay attention to your child’s feelings about different things. Stressors can come from both internal and external sources, examples of which are listed next.

Your teen may be experiencing one or more of the following.—>


Causes of Teen Stress

• Family problems (divorce, death in family, new sibling, financial problems)

• Moving to a new school

• Difficulty in school (learning difficulties, too much homework, tests)

• Friend issues (lack of friends, shyness, fights with friends, acceptance/rejection, peer pressure, boyfriend/girlfriend problems)

• Overload (too many extra-curricular activities combined with school work, jobs)

• Illness

• Physical changes in body

• Lack of sleep

• Deciding one’s future (college planning, job planning)

• Overachieving (trying to be perfect in many areas)

• High expectations (setting goals too high; can come from parents or the teen herself)

Look out for these warning signs that she's under too much stress.—>


Warning Signs

Signs of teen stress can come in many forms: physical, mental, or emotional. Every teen will experience some signs at different times, but when they last for longer periods, they can create further problems.

Physical signs of teen stress

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Nervousness
  • Eating issues (overeating, undereating)
  • Sleeping issues (insomnia, nightmares)

Mental signs of teen stress

  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganization
  • Lack of concentration
  • Drop in grades

Emotional signs of teen stress

  • Anger quickly
  • Sadness
  • Impatience
  • Frustration
  • Easily agitated
  • Violence

Stress reduction techniques that work.—>


Stress-management Solutions

Most stress can be dissipated by some simple, everyday methods. If stress has overrun a teen’s life, however, and the following stress-reduction techniques don’t work, it’s best to seek professional help for him or her.

• Talking: Talk to your child about what’s bothering her. Talking and working out one’s problems with somebody else will help reduce built-up tension. Encourage her to talk to her friends and other adults as well.

• Take time to relax: Have her find some activities she enjoys doing, such as reading a book or listening to music.

Exercise and eat healthfully: Among its many benefits, exercise (non-competitive) can help reduce built-up muscle tension. Eating properly along with good exercise can keep teens’ bodies healthy and prepared to deal with stress. Avoid too much caffeine, as this increases anxiety.

• Be prepared/organized: Don’t allow teens to wait until the last minute to do assignments or study for a test. Feeling prepared and ready for things can reduce lots of built-up stress. Have them create a daily schedule to follow to keep them more organized.

• Learn relaxation techniques: Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and muscle relaxation are great techniques for alleviating physical and mental tension.

Regardless of the cause, it’s important to get to the root of the problem before it spirals out of control. If left untreated, stress can lead to problems down the road; these may be harder to deal with. Stressed teens may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. They can become depressed or suffer other types of anxiety disorders. As parents, we can and should help them before stress gets out of hand.

Reprinted with permission from Troubled Teen 101.

What have you found to be helpful stress-busters for your teen?