Teen Stress - Why and How?

The causes of teen stress are almost legendary.

We were all teenagers, once, right? I remember mostly the great parts of being a teenager - the greatly increased freedom, the fun of high school, earning my own money, and a much expanded social life compared to the earlier years.

Being a teenager during the 1950's was a breeze compared to going through those years now. I think that the pressures on teens during the last 10 or even 20 years are huge by comparison.

That may be because of fewer restrictions on behaviors.

For example, more teens seem to have jobs at an earlier age - or at least, they're working more hours - though the reverse was true in some areas of every State.

Teen stress is sometimes alleviated when the right balance of work and school is reached.

Another difference is that sexual activity is more open and more acceptable. At some point in time, sexual abstinence actually became taboo among teens. This probably has happened because of the glamorization of sex in movies and on TV.

Having access to birth control pills has removed the major reason for abstinence in the past.

Is sexual activity the biggest cause of teen stress?

I don't know, but I suspect that it's a major cause.

Especially with hugely increased ability to communicate on a nearly massive scale with cell phones and texting, e-mail, and websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

I think the rush into sex by teens, which once was the more or less exclusive domain of adulthood, is part and parcel of the rush to adulthood.

Somehow, young people are always in a hurry to grow up.

Another big factor is the easy availability of alcohol and other drugs.

There's no question that the stress factors on teenagers today are monumental.

Recently - March 2011 - an Associated Press article showed up on Comcast about teen depression resulting from their Facebook experiences.

In the article, one teen was quoted as saying that Facebook was one big popularity contest to see who got the most friend requests, or who got the most pictures tagged.

If you're a stressed-out teen and find yourself becoming ill frequently, you might possibly be ready to make some changes in your life to remove the stress.

The same changes made by adults to remove stress from their lives are available to teenagers.

One of the changes which can make the greatest difference is the amount of sleep you're getting on a regular basis. When I was a teenager, one of the things I did best was sleep. It still is one of my favorite activities, especially at night.

If you've allowed yourself to become overly committed to too many people or situations, and can't get enough sleep, get out of those commitments. Establish your schedule so that you can get 9, 10 or more hours of continuous sleep every night.

With all the physical changes of adolescence, you really need your sleep - every night.

If you're on drugs or alcohol, quit. Quit completely - cold turkey. Do you smoke? If so, quit.

Do you use any of the faddish energy concoctions such as Red Bull or other dangerous so-called energy boosters? Do you drink coffee? If the answer is yes, quit.

Did you get behind in school? Do you feel great pressure from parents or teachers to study harder to get better grades? If you make the obvious changes above, you can catch up. Keep in mind, though, that getting your health on track is your highest priority.

Probably the greatest obstacle to getting on track and eliminating teen stress is peer pressure - or sometimes pressure from older teens or adults.

At some point you must establish priorities. Your good health and emotional stability need to be at the top of the list. So if you run with a group or organization which values negative, health-stealing activities and circumstances, get out of it.

Some organizations may not exactly value the negatives, but if they promote certain activities at the expense of your health, they can be replaced with other groups or organizations where demands on you are totally reasonable.

Another area you may need to consider is what you're eating.

Too much sugar intake is responsible for lots of teen stress.

Many teenagers and adults eat whatever is most convenient. Most of those food products are not only nutritionally deficient, they are downright poisonous.

If you're overweight, take a look at my childhood obesity page. Yes, you're a teenager, a young adult, really - but most overweight teens started becoming fat during their earlier years.

Do you listen to music from your ipod or other player using earbuds or earphones?

Many teens and young adults - even quite a few middle-aged adults - damage or ruin their hearing by exposure to loud music through earphones. Stress is an automatic result. Loud music may be exciting for a while, but it is anything but relaxing.

I suppose one of the most common reasons for teen stress and depression is the whole popularity thing. Facebook has certainly made that problem worse - as evidenced by the AP article referenced above.

If you find yourself on the low end of the popularity totem pole for whatever reason, keep in mind that popularity is based on very silly notions.

Having taught middle school and high school students during the '60's and '70's, and having had direct contact with hundreds of teenagers over a period of eleven years - and of course, remembering my own years as a teenager, I was always amazed at how ridiculous teens can be in their judgments of others.

Judgments of others by a person or a group of people are usually based on nothing factual - just some biased observations and gossip.

The whole fashion thing - the clothes you wear and what your hair looks like - has nothing to do with who you are. Nonetheless judgments are made all the time by people of all ages.

In fact, thoughtless and irrational comments and actions often become the common modes of action by people of all ages.

Try to understand that fact - and realize that your worth as a person has nothing to do with what others may have said or how they may have acted.

Teen stress is a serious problem - one that you can solve and learn to avoid.

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