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Adolescent Stress

Adolescent stress is a topic of concern for our community. Our teenagers are overbooked, lack time management skills, are driven to succeed and are overwhelmed. While many adults remember their teen years with fond memories of friends and fun, our teens are dealing with conflicting demands from teachers, parents and peers.

The primary sources of tension in adolescence today include academic pressure, relationship difficulties with peers, conflicts with parents and pressure to succeed. During the teen years, today’s youth have many adult responsibilities, but without the freedom and independence of adulthood.

Often teens have not yet developed the coping skills required to deal with stress, and therefore their responses to stress tend to be less healthy. These unhealthy responses may include anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, physical illness, drug and alcohol use, and depression.

Although stress is uncomfortable, it is not unmanageable. There are ways that teens can work to deal with the stress they experience before it becomes overwhelming. For example, teens can learn to manage their time. Not unlike many adults, young people tend to have difficulty organizing their time and as a result become overbooked and overwhelmed. Developing the skills to prioritize and schedule can be important in relieving some stress. Maintaining friendships and taking time to enjoy life is also very important in stress management and reduction. Finally, maintaining some physical activity or regular exercise is extremely beneficial in this area.

When stress does become overwhelming, there are still options. Learning relaxation techniques to self sooth before panicking, talking to friends that may be experiencing similar stress, and talking to parents about what they are going through can be very important during these difficult times.

As the end of the semester approaches, it is important to be aware of the increase in stress levels of our teenagers. As students begin to scramble to make a last effort to bring up grades, their young minds begin to worry about how the outcome of the semester will affect their lives, their feelings about themselves, and their parent’s pride in them.

Many teens seek help from a counselor to deal with stress that has become overwhelming, or to help them to manage some of the stressors in their lives. Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) has counselors available on all of the middle school and high school campuses in Palo Alto, as well as Menlo-Atherton High School, for teens that may need a safe place to talk. Teen stress is a problem, but there are solutions and people who can help make this stress more manageable.