Teen Stress

Teen stress is on the increase. Teenagers become stressed about parents, work, and relationships and many other things. Teenage stress can be quite normal, but too much stress is associated with teen depression and anxiety.

Our teenage years are supposed to be a carefree time.

But teenagers often feel overwhelmed as there is always:

  • homework to do
  • new technology to learn
  • exams to worry about
  • concern about getting a part-time job
  • arguments at home and school
  • pressure to make new friends and fit in.


Life can seem pretty heavy sometimes for a teenager.

While stress is a normal reaction and is good for us in small quantities, too much teenage stress for too long can make it difficult to cope and lead to teen depression and teen anxiety.

Here I discuss:

  • some of the common causes and symptoms of teenage stress
  • strategies to flip your negative thinking and reduce teenage stress
  • relaxation strategies to reduce teen stress
  • other strategies for teen stress management.

Common causes of teenage stress

There are a number of causes of teenage stress that can include:

Changing schoolsProblems at home
HomeworkArguments at school or home
Being left out of a groupExtracurricular activities – sport
Peer pressureBeing behind or ahead in physical development
Having high expectations placed upon youChanges in body shape and size
School stressSocial pressures
Planning for the futureIntimate relationships with others

When you get stressed your heart may start to race as it increases blood to the muscles and the brain. This can make your body tense and alert and ready for action.

This may lead to a number of symptoms of teen stress.

Common symptoms of teenage stress

When stressed your body releases a number of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

This activates the fight or flight response and prepares your body to fight or flee from the cause of stress.

There are many causes of stress but knowing what causes stress for you may be different to what causes stress for another person.

This is because stress is in the eye of the beholder.

Whether your main cause of stress is:

teen stress

  • an annoying parent or friend
  • overload at school
  • worry about upcoming exams
  • money problems or financial stress
  • pressure to conform and fit in...

...knowing the early warning signs of stress is important. These may include among others:

  • difficulty concentrating or doing homework
  • angry outbursts
  • becoming withdrawn from friends and family or activities you once enjoyed
  • a drop in school performance.
  • Keeping a stress diary can be a useful way to gather objective data about your stress symptoms and warning signs of stress.

    Other symptoms of teenage stress may include:

    Migraine headaches or stress headaches Butterflies
    Difficulty sleepingAnxiety, frustration, or anger
    Shortness of breathSkin eruptions such as acne

    Sometimes stress can really start to pile up - exams, relationships, concerns about body image, and friends - and one of the worst things that you can do is to bottle it up inside.

    By not releasing your stress you may start to live with an unhealthy amount of stress that can lead to things like teen depression and teen anxiety.

    Does stress affect your overall health? It sure does!

    Too much stress for too long can make you sick. You may start to notice things like physical exhaustion, hair loss, depression, and skin rashes.

    If you regularly experience some of these common symptoms of stress then you may be suffering from too much stress.

    How can teenagers deal with teenage stress?

    Do you know your main causes of stress?

    Different teenagers can feel stress differently, so knowing what your stress signature is helps you to identify when you are stressed.

    Think about a time you were stressed.

    Maybe it was before an exam, or after a disagreement with mom or dad.

    Can you remember how your body felt?

    Did your heart beat faster? Did you have butterflies in your stomach? Maybe you got a tension headache?

    Keeping a stress diary gives you an idea of what is stressing you out and how you react to your causes of stress.

    This can be a good start to setting up your stress management plan.

    Reduce teenage stress by flipping your negative thinking

    Sometimes what you say to yourself is OK but other times you may put your own "spin on it".

    When what you say to yourself becomes increasingly negative, this can be a big cause of stress.

    That is why it is useful to practice positive self-talk.

    By tapping into your inner strengths you develop an optimistic attitude toward stress.

    Developing your positive thinking habits in the face of stress builds your resilience and stress coping skills.

    For example, going to a new school can be stressful but if you think that you may make a lot of new friends then it could be exciting rather than stressful.

    Teenage Stress Buster Tip 1

    What is it that you like about yourself? What are you good at?

    Write down on a piece of paper a list of positive statements about yourself.

    Next time that you feel down or lacking confidence pull the list out of your wallet or back pocket and have a read of the many positive qualities that you have.

    For parents this is an opportunity to role model rational thinking.

    Use this cognitive therapy model to share some of your own disputes or illogical beliefs that may be causing stress.

    Another way to help teenagers through stressful periods is to be a source of accurate information.

    Trying to see and communicate both sides of the coin. By communicating the pros and cons of BOTH sides of the argument you present a balanced view to your teenagers and are able to point out your concerns.

    As a parent it is important to use non-judgmental language when disputing illogical beliefs with your teenager.

    Try to avoid words such as "should" or "must," as teenagers may rebel against being told what to do.

    Relaxation strategies for teen stress

    All of us need to relax at one time or another.

    relaxation techniques

    What do you find relaxing?

    I like to swim or run to relax my muscles and use up accumulated stress products in my body.

    Exercise reduces stress but there are many other best ways to relax.

    For example, 10-20 minutes of mindful meditation or starting your day with hatha yoga poses may be beneficial.

    Find out what you like to do to relax and then bring them into your daily schedule.

    This can help to prevent stress and is also a good way to deal with teen stress.

    Probably the simplest and most effective teen stress management tip is diaphragmatic breathing.

    I have used diaphragmatic breathing to reduce the stress that some of the young sub-elite athletes feel before a race and have found this also to be helpful with teenage stress in exam times.

    Diaphragmatic breathing is a basis for many other relaxation techniques.

    Teenage Stress Buster Tip 2

    This simple and effective stress management technique can be used for reducing stress when it occurs. It is quick to use and can be done just about anywhere.

    1. Keep a stress diary and notice what is causing you stress and how you react to stress.

    2. When you notice that you are experiencing symptoms of stress try these breathing and relaxation techniques – known as The Calming Reflex, developed by Dr Stroebel of Yale University.

    Other strategies to reduce teen stress

    These teen stress management tips give you back a sense of control.

    Just talking to somebody can help. Have you ever talked a problem out with a friend, only to find that after you have had a chat that the problem does not seem so big?

    In fact this is one of the characteristics of stress resilient people in the face of their biggest causes of stress.

    Well it can be the same with teen stress.

    If you have a friend who is a good listener, or your mom or dad, then seek out some support.

    See a school counselor. A school counselor can give you ways to reduce your stress or manage it better.

    Write down your strengths. Grab a piece of paper write down your strengths. Keep it in your back pocket and when you feel stressed or down, pull it out and read about your good points to give yourself a lift!

    Dwell on the positive things in your life. Watch your thoughts and try to keep them realistically positive.

    Here are some resources to develop positive thinking habits that help to improve your skills for coping with stress.

    Use positive statements to counter the effects of teen stress. What are some positive statements that you can say to yourself when you notice you are starting to feel stressed?

    Some statements may include "I feel relaxed and calm," or "I am at peace."

    Search here for other tips for reducing teenage stress

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