Working to Reduce Stress among Teens and within the Family

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Teens Get Stress Too

In a book entitled “Stress and the Family Health”, author Dolores Curran (1985) listed the top ten stressors for families in the United States.  Her list included:

  • Economic, finances, and budgeting;
  • Children’s behavior, discipline, and sibling fighting;
  • Insufficient couple time for adults;
  • Lack of shared responsibility in the family;
  • Communicating with children;
  • Insufficient “me” time;
  • Guilt for not accomplishing more;
  • Poor spousal relationships;
  • Insufficient family play time; and
  • An over-scheduled family calendar.

Many of these may or may not be stressors for you and your family.  Still, we are recognizing that just as adults experience stress, so do children, more specifically teens.  According to reporting from the American Psychological Association (APA), 31% of teens surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed due to stress and 30% reported feeling depressed or sad due to stress (Bethune, 2014).  In addition, 36% reported feeling tired and 23% reported skipping a meal due to stress (Bethune, 2014).  Troubling still was the proportion of teens in the survey who reported their stress was increasing (31%) and 42% reported they were doing enough (or not sure they were doing enough) to manage their stress.  Approximately, 1 in 10 teens reported not setting aside any time to manage their stress (Bethune, 2014).

Reducing and managing stress is significant to overall good health and well-being.  Chronic stress can impair the body’s immune system, can worsen pain, and lead to depression among individuals (American Psychological Association, 2019).  Severe and intense degrees of stress may increase risk for heart attack, especially among those with previous heart disease (Krantz & McCeney, 2002).  Thus, it is important to reduce these health risks due to stress in adults and in teens.  Practical tips should be exercised to strengthen social, mental, and emotional health.  The APA suggests:

  • Identify what is causing your stress – List out your stressors and develop a plan to address them
  • Build strong relationships – Avoid negative/hostile relationships and work to have positive/healthy relationships
  • Walk away when angry – Count to 10, step away, reconsider your actions when angry, go for a walk and exercise. Exercise may provide a positive boost to your mood.
  • Rest your mind – Work to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, limit caffeine (especially during evening hours), reduce screen time (particularly prior to bed).
  • Seek help – If feeling overwhelmed, angry, chronically upset; seek counseling by a licensed mental health professional and/or trusted pastoral counselor or faith leader (Krantz, Thorn, & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2013).

This information and the tips from APA can be helpful to adults and teens living in a way that is conducive to their overall health and well-being.

PHAME-US Life

American Psychological Association. (2019). How stress affects your health. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-facts

Bethune, S. (2014). Teen stress rivals that of adults. Monitor on Psychology, 45(4). http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/teen-stress

Curran, D. (1985). Stress and the Healthy Family. Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press.

Krantz, D. S., & McCeney, M. K. (2002). Effects of psychological and social factors on organic disease: a critical assessment of research on coronary heart disease. Annu Rev Psychol, 53, 341-369. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135208

Krantz, D. S., Thorn, B., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2013). How Stress Affects Your Health. In A. P. Association (Ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

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