Now, more than ever, teens are under more stress. Mental illness is at an all-time high and does not seem to be slowing down. Between 2016 and 2020, kids and teens between the ages of 3 and 17 diagnosed with depression and anxiety rose to almost 30%, according to a study done by JAMA Pediatrics.
If left unchecked, their stress can become chronic, leading to many physical and mental issues, such as dysautonomia, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, anxiety, and depression. It is important to know that increased stress in teens looks much different than in adults. But, no matter age, there are always ways for you to help your teen manage their stress.
Source of Stress
As a child moves into the adolescent years, their source of stress is most likely caused by situations outside of their homes. While there could be things at home that could make your teen stressed, it is more likely nowadays that it is related to something with school. Being around their peers at school could either help a teen healthily manage their stress, or it could be the source of it. The world’s current events could also be a great source of stress for your teen. Identifying the source of stress is the first step in helping your teen find ways to manage their stress.
Signs of Stress
If your teen is dealing with stress, there is a high chance they will not communicate the source of their stress, and they may even try to hide it from you. In those instances, knowing and understanding the various signs of stress in your teen is essential.
Firstly, you may notice your teen becoming more irritable and quick to anger. When stressed, they may not know how to communicate their feelings, so instead, their emotions bubble over into a foul mood that leads them to be more short-tempered. You may also notice a change in their behavior. For example, suppose your teen, who was once incredibly active in their social life or extracurriculars, suddenly wants to stay home constantly. You may also notice they start neglecting their other responsibilities. In that case, there is a strong possibility they are struggling with lots of stress.
You may also notice they are having a hard time getting or staying asleep, or they complain of constantly being tired. Their eating habits can also change when dealing with stress to either eating too much or too little. All of these are signs that you have a teen who is currently highly stressed.
Management of Stress
If you suspect your teen is struggling with stress and want to help them manage it, you can do it in several ways.
A significant way to help your stressed teen is by finding ways to ensure they get six to twelve hours of sleep each night. Consider making a rule to limit screen time at night to help their minds calm down before bed. It may also be helpful to find some physical activity for them to do for about sixty minutes a day to help them have a healthy way to release their stress.
It will also help if you make time for fun but also time for quiet during your teen’s day. Do not put too much pressure on your child regarding schoolwork, and ensure they can do things that bring them joy, whatever that activity might be. Encourage them to spend time outside as well. Getting out in nature is an effective way to lower stress levels as well as improve their overall health.
If your teen is still showing signs that they are stressed, it may be time to look into taking them to a professional so they can talk it out with someone who can help get to the root of their stress. Ensure your teen is aware there is no shame in talking to someone.
In the end, if you ensure you are there as a constant support for your teen, it will significantly help their stress management.