Other stories filed under 2018-2019
The truth of stress in the lives of teenagers
January 17, 2019
Stress, a feeling that is triggered by an event that makes you feel frustrated or nervous, and anxiety, a feeling of fear, worry or unease, are both very common feelings in today’s population. However, is it possible that students are experiencing more stress than adults these days?
Stress can come from anywhere, however, the most common cause of stress for students is school. Many students say that their stress levels exceed the healthy level. The American Psychological Association reports that the healthy level of stress is around 3.9 out of 10, students, however, rank their stress levels around 5.8 out of 10. Adults average level of stress is ranked around 5.1 out of 10, which is less than students.
According to an article titled “Teens More Stressed Out Than Adults, Survey Shows” on NBCnews.com, around 31 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed and approximately 30 percent reported feeling depressed or sad as a result of being stressed. Although there is a clear impact on students’ lives due to stress, they are less likely to admit that stress is affecting them than adults. Around 36 percent of students have reported feeling fatigued or tired as a result of stress, and 23 percent of students have admitted to skipping a meal due to stress as well. Approximately 54 percent of teens claim that stress doesn’t affect their body or physical aspects of their health opposed to 39 percent of adults claiming the same thing. 52 percent of students also claim that stress does not affect their mental health as opposed to 43 percent of adults. Only about 16 percent of students say that they feel that their stress levels have decreased this past year, and around 31 percent believe that their stress levels have actually increased. According to David Forrester, a counselor at a high school in Olympia, Wash, students have to perform at a higher level now compared to when he was in high school. Forrester also states, “We have so many choices for kids. They need to grow up a little faster about what they want to do and how they’re going to do it.”
The plethora of choices that are available is marvelous, however, sometimes these choices become too much or overwhelming to students. The heightened emphasis on school testing, creating a make-or-break feeling, and a keen focus on future college and/or career plans starting as early as middle school is also extremely overwhelming. As stated by Tim Conway, a director of the counseling department at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, NJ, “It follows them home… There is no escape anymore.” This also tends to be true due to students never getting a break from school due to homework and having to balance family time, work, and relationships on top of it all.
There are many reasons as to why teens stress levels exceed the stress level of adults in today’s society. Sleep deprivation is a major aspect in teen’s lives today. A study carried out by Brown University School of Medicine found that ninth and tenth graders should be getting roughly nine hours of sleep every night in order to maintain prime alertness. After a survey, the researchers found that students are only getting roughly 7.5 hours of sleep on school nights. However, when students try to get enough sleep, like the nine hours that are recommended, their bodies work against them. Studies show that a teenager’s circadian rhythms are about two hours behind the average adult’s circadian rhythm. According to William Dement, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, “Sending kids to school at 7 a.m. is the equivalent of sending an adult to work at 4 in the morning.”
Another contributing factor to higher stress levels is the increase in hormones, anxiety, and depression. The stress of having to deal with teenagers and their hormones might impact an adult’s life, however, imagine hauling around those emotions 24/7. NIH, the National Institutes of Health, funded a study where researchers found that the prevalence of major depressive episodes in adolescent children increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014, imagine how large that number is now in 2019.
Teenagers also have multiple “bosses,” while adults only have one. These six bosses, however, have a large amount of power over students in today’s society. Teachers all have different expectations, teaching styles, and emotional intelligence. If a student doesn’t satisfy one of their teacher’s expectations, their future is on the line due to how important grades are in today’s society. Students also lack the option of getting a new teacher if they don’t like their current one, whereas adults can find a new job if they wish.
The factors of fitting into society while also trying to stand out and life after high school is also affecting the stress levels of students. Students stress levels are reaching a point where students are not feeling well. This adds to the stress of life due to the fact that a student doesn’t feel well, they feel like they can’t get all of their homework done. Colleen Frainey, a junior in Tualatin, Oregon, claims that the school work of all of her advanced classes last year would physically make her sick with headaches and stomachs. Abigail Frainey, the mother of Colleen Frainey, says that the stress was more than they could handle as a family.
Stress and anxiety are extremely prevalent in today’s teens. These feelings can come from an assortment of areas such as school, the feeling of needing to please everyone, and life as a teenager. Something students can do to help this situation is to stop for a couple minutes and just take a few deep breaths. So remember, take five minutes and just breathe.