Stress is how the body and brain respond to a demand. Our bodies can handle small amounts of stress, but too much stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health. When stress becomes overwhelming, it’s important to take a step back and pinpoint what’s causing it, so you can find healthy ways to cope.
While every teen faces unique challenges and different life events, some circumstances are common to lots of teens:
- School and Social Pressure
Whether it’s keeping up grades, applying to colleges, or deciding what to do after graduation, school-related stress is real. Homework and a heavy academic load can often compete with extracurricular activities, social events and sports obligations.
School can bring social stress, as well. It’s natural to want to fit in with friends and peers at school. However, with our non-stop connection to social media, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others constantly.
Teens can also face peer pressure. Sometimes you may feel pressured to take part in activities or behaviors that are outside your comfort zone, adding to your worries.
- Family Challenges
Although it may not be easy to talk about it openly, teens can also face worries at home. Family conflict, divorce, illness and financial hardship can all cause stress. Parents can also add to stress, as they may (often not on purpose ) place added pressure or expectations on their teens.
- Body Image Issues
There’s no getting around it: teens go through many physical changes. These changes are usually hard to hide, and it’s easy to compare yourself to friends and peers who are going through these changes, too.
It’s normal to feel stressed during this time. You may develop faster or slower than others, which can make “fitting in” feel difficult. This transition may also make you feel like you’ve lost a sense of self, as the body you’ve known for many years starts to change.
At times it feels like peers are at the center of a teen’s world. It’s easy to feel stressed about the “right” way to respond to friends’ needs. While it’s important to learn how to support others, it can be hard to set boundaries on how their hardships affect our own lives.
- Romantic Relationships
As a teen, you may start to feel new romantic or sexual draw to people. This attraction is normal, but can be stressful and confusing. You may feel some self-doubt or a lack of confidence. Many teens also feel added stress if they a face questions about gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Major Life Events
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teen or an adult, major life changes can cause stress. Illness, accidents, bullying or abuse can have a huge effect on teen stress levels. Family changes, such as divorce or the death of a loved one, can also cause stress as you try to work out how to express your feelings.
Moving and starting at a new school also creates stress or anxiety as you try to form new friendships or learn a new lifestyle. It’s normal for many teens to feel flooded or confused with these changes.
Teens can also feel stress when they read about major world events that can be scary or traumatic—these stories are not easy to avoid in today’s digital age. Hearing frightening news, whether it’s in our own country or abroad, can leave us stressed about our safety and the safety of our friends and family.