Overbooked, Under Stress

Most doctors agree that stress contributes to nearly every known disease or condition.   Today’s lifestyles and work habits, including long hours, increased commitments and less down time, make managing stress a trying task.

Our teenagers are overbooked, overwhelmed and yet driven to succeed.  Primary sources of tension include academic pressure, relationship difficulties with peers, conflicts with parents, and pressure to succeed.  Today’s youth have adult responsibilities, but lack the independence of adulthood.

Making matters worse, teens have often not yet developed the coping skills necessary to manage stress, and therefore respond to stress in less healthy ways, including anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, physical illness, drug and alcohol use, and depression.

Although stress is uncomfortable, it is not unmanageable.  There are ways you can help your teen deal with stress before it becomes overwhelming.

Time Management – Help your teen learn time management skills: to make time for school and extra curricular activities, healthy meals, at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and down time.

Emotional Wellbeing – Encourage your teen to schedule time for enjoyment with friends and family.

Physical Fitness – Physical activity reduces stress, and helps teens sleep and maintain focus.  Support your son or daughter in participating in sports or exercise at the gym or school.  Going for a walk together after dinner can be good for both of you and give you special time together.

Relaxation -You can help your teen learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, painting or tai-chi.  It can also be a great opportunity to take a class with your teenager and learn something together.

Model a healthy lifestyle – You can help by setting an example of a healthy, reduced stress lifestyle.  Learn to manage your own time, get enough sleep, exercise, and enjoy life.  Your teen will learn from your example.

Throughout the school year and especially as final exams approach, it is important to be aware of the increase in stress levels of our teenagers.  As students begin to scramble to make last efforts to bring up grades, their young minds begin to worry about how the outcome of the semester will affect their lives, their own feelings about themselves, and their parents’ pride in them.

Written by Adolescent Counseling Services’ Staff

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