Our teens are at an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Teenagers experience high levels of stress for a variety of reasons. Many times this stress can make them feel overwhelmed or frustrated. Other times they may consider more drastic measures like self-harm.
The church must do a better job of seeing this need and helping to prevent disaster. We must learn what steps can be taken to decrease stress and lower levels of anxiety. What are common stressors?
FAMILY DYNAMICS - One manor cause of high stress in teens is family dynamics. Family issues. Family conflicts. Divorce. Financial problems. Substance abuse. These can cause high stress in teenagers. This removes security and brings trust issues. They may feel happiness or contentment are out of reach.
PHYSICAL CHANGES - Another major cause for stress is hormonal changes. This often gets used as an excuse but it is very real. The hormonal changes that occur during puberty can lead to mood swings, growing pains and fear of the unknown. There are chemical and biological changes that are as dangerous as any other hazardous material. We must be cautious in how we approach various issues so as not to produce additional, unnecessary stress.
SOCIAL PRESSURE - We’ve previously identified social media as an obvious danger. Adolescence is a time of significant social change and development. Many pre-teens and teenagers may feel pressure to fit in with their peers or to conform to social norms. This peer pressure influences them to make drastic and unpredictable changes.
LIMITATIONS & EXPECTATIONS - Education and academic pressure is also high on teenagers. Kids may feel stressed due to the pressure to perform well in school, maintain good grades, and achieve success in extracurricular activities. Some students are able to balance their social and academic pursuits. However, most find themselves wrestling with how to adequately prepare for their future. They can barely handle the stress of the present and struggle with overcoming the past.
FUTURE UNCERTAINTY - Finally, there is the stress of uncertainty and unpredictable future events. Teenagers may feel stressed about their future, such as choosing a college or career path, and the pressure to make important decisions. Many will launch into college without a clue on a major. Some may complete college and rarely (if ever) use that expensive learning for their career. The college experience is more about socializing, dating and having fun.
It is important for parents, teachers, and other adults to be aware of these potential stressors and to provide teenagers with the necessary support and resources to help them cope with stress in healthy ways. This may include encouraging regular exercise, providing opportunities for relaxation and self-care, and helping teenagers develop effective coping strategies, such as mindfulness, time management, and problem-solving skills.
In our next blog, I will discuss the recent statistics on self harm, and how to talk to your teenager about suicide. This has become an epidemic in the last decade. Let’s get serious about mental health.
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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