Table of contents
- Introduction to Teen Stress in Today's World
- Academic Stress: Grades, Future Concerns, and Expectations
- Social Stress: Bullying and the Impact of Social Media
- Peer Pressure: Navigating the Complexities of Teenage Social Life
- The Fear of Failure: A Deep-Rooted Cause of Teen Stress
- Consequences of Stress: Behavioral, Physical, and Emotional Changes
- Works Cited
Introduction to Teen Stress in Today's World
Today’s growing youth faces many challenges. Teenagers face the constant struggles of schooling, after-school activities, workloads, and social pressure. With today's society and the growth of technology, teenagers deal with even more stress and pressure than they would’ve twenty-five years ago. Stress is the response to pressure or threat. Stress can make us feel tense, nervous, or on edge. Ever wonder what the number one cause of stress among teenagers is? Due to social anxiety, fear of failure, and the struggle of balancing extracurriculars, school is the number one trigger that brings out stress amongst teenagers around the world causing them to experience emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral changes.
Stress is very common among most teens in the world. Most teens across the globe go to school for most of the day and go home to homework or sports or clubs. Having lots of activities lined up throughout the day makes it hard for a teenager to complete all they have to do while maintaining strong grades, performance in clubs or sports, and a healthy eating and sleeping schedule. This can often lead to stress and anxiety among them. The American Psychological Association took a survey amongst teens and their number one reason for stress is school and its extra-curricular activities.
Academic Stress: Grades, Future Concerns, and Expectations
Academic stress isn’t just going to school. Many things fall under the category of academic stress. Grades play a major role in academic stress. Many teenagers stress about having certain grades and maintaining them throughout the year. When a grade slips or they perform poorly on an assignment, it causes stress and anxiety. Teenagers also commonly think: What will I do once I finish school? The future is a very stressful topic to discuss for most teenagers who aren’t quite sure what they want to do after school. With this comes the constant stress of having to please parents and teachers. Teenagers face lots of stress from parents and teachers to keep their grades up and perform in school. All these issues factor into academic stress.
Social Stress: Bullying and the Impact of Social Media
Social Stress is very common among teenagers in school. Many kids in today’s society face bullying, which is a major problem that many schools have been trying their best to have a no-bullying tolerance policy. Wherever one may go to school, there will be bullying, it’s inevitable, and many kids get bullied about not being smart or having poor performance. Social media also can be a major source of stress in school for teenagers. Dr. Gurwitch states how, “Social stress is a real thing, teenagers are constantly thinking about how to fit in with peers, bullying, relationships, especially with the attachment to their phones, stress levels are rising” (Mazziotta). With the technology in today’s society, kids can do all their communication online and not have to confront or interact in person. Posts made on social media that are controversial by students can lead to discussion and confrontation in school, which can be stressful.
Peer Pressure: Navigating the Complexities of Teenage Social Life
Peer pressure is also a form of social stress. Peer pressure can affect many teenagers' school lives. Teens are constantly pressured by their peers and friends to do things in school they may not feel comfortable with. Teens can be pressured into cheating, and poor behavior, many teens are also pressured into using drugs or other harmful substances in school, which can lead to higher stress levels and poor performance while in school. Peer pressure can be very stressful to the point where students may not want to attend school to avoid situations like this which can lead to them falling behind in school and work which will ultimately lead to poor performance.
The Fear of Failure: A Deep-Rooted Cause of Teen Stress
The fear of failure is also a very common trigger of teen stress. Many teenagers are afraid they’re going to do poorly in school, and disappoint teachers, peers, and their families. They're constantly having to think about what comes after high school, and how they’ll succeed in life. Teenagers have so much pressure put upon them, that they’re told that high school sets them up for college. If one does poorly in high school, does that mean they won’t get into a good college? Does doing poorly in high school and college mean they won't succeed in life? These are common things a teenager thinks about during school and often fears the failure to come. Fear of failure in school can lead to much more than stress. This can often lead to anxiety and depression. Teens can become depressed if they get on a bad track because they think they are not going to succeed in life. Everyone has the opportunity to do well in life, school is supposed to give you the tools you need to do so. A school is a stressful place, that most teenagers don’t enjoy, they aren’t getting the tools that can help them in later life. This causes the fear of failure.
Consequences of Stress: Behavioral, Physical, and Emotional Changes
Stress from school can ultimately lead to affect the body in many ways. Stress from school can cause behavioral changes, physical changes, cognitive changes, and emotional changes. A student's behavior can change in many ways. These can be changes in eating habits or sleeping habits, and avoidance to do their normal, daily activities. Students under a lot of stress are likely to get sick more often and complain of headaches, stomachaches, and other aches and pains. They can experience cognitive changes like decreased concentration, forgetfulness, and the appearance of carelessness. Teenagers under lots of stress can also experience emotional changes such as agitation, anxiety, or depression. It’s most important to pay attention to the emotional changes of teenagers because unfortunately, bad things can happen to teenagers who become depressed or have lots of anxiety.
The American Psychological Association did a survey on teen stress and got the statistics. They reported that around 10% of people say stress causes them to get lower grades than they expected. 59% of people say that balancing all their extracurriculars with school causes them the most stress. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that over 62% of people face overwhelming stress and anxiety from school. That number is up from 50% in 2011.
I decided that I wanted to know what my fellow peers felt about stress, what the main cause of their stress was, and if they even get stressed out. I created a survey monkey poll with 3 questions: Is school your number one cause of stress? What gives you the most stress in school? If there was one thing administrators could do to make school less stressful, what would it be? I used my technology to my advantage and posted my survey on my social media platforms knowing I would draw the most people from Instagram, or Snapchat. I was very excited to see that in 12 hours I got over 100 responses. Unfortunately, survey monkey is only free for the first 100 responses so I can’t see what the last 20 people have said, but the trend is similar.
For the first question, 91% of high school students say school is the number one cause of stress, 6% say it is not, and 3% say it is other (sports, social media, etc.). 91% is a very large percentage, and I was happy to know that I am not the only person who faces stress in school. For the second question, I received many responses from students on what causes the most stress. When I went through the responses, I noticed that many people said homework, grades, expectations, testing, future, and workload. For the last question, all the responses were very similar, but I had a few that stood out. Many students obviously wished for no homework and less school. Some people suggested that teachers communicate without teachers so they don't all assign a bunch of work due for one day. Others wanted teachers to be more understanding of all the stress kids face and the difficulties of balancing their time. All the responses were very helpful and let me get an insight into my fellow peers' lives and I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to do this survey.
A way to help limit students' stress in school is to find ways the school can help. Many students say less homework, less school, and shorter days, but in the long run, that just cannot happen for most schools. Most schools have guidance counselors who are trained to deal with students daily. Guidance counselors know lots about student stress and can help teenagers find ways to balance their curricula and work with their teachers. Guidance counselors can be valuable in solving the problem of stress in school. Talking to teachers can also help with stress levels, by communicating with them, they know how you feel and they can often help you and give advice.
The stress response is also called your fight-or-flight response. This basically means that it's an automatic response that helps us deal with what our body thinks is dangerous. This doesn’t mean that the situation can be physically dangerous, everyday pressures, and stress from school can activate it. This response can be used to help you do well in stressful situations, like the stress you feel before taking a big test or presenting in front of the class. This helps you face your challenges, rather than backing away from them, it’s a part of learning from your mistakes and growing. Many of us are using our fight-or-flight responses in school and may not even know it. It may seem like your body is crashing from all the stress and pressure school puts on you, but it’s not going to let you fall, your body’s fight or flight response will often help you with your stress, you just need to learn how to engage it.
Learning how to deal with stress can also help limit the stress from school teenagers face. Be realistic, Dr. D’Arcy Lyness says “Don’t be perfect, nobody is, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, if you need help from somebody, just ask” (Lyness). Get a good night's sleep, sleep helps keep your mind and body in good shape, making you better deal with stressful situations. Don’t overschedule, you may have to cut activities out of your day, choose the most important ones, and don’t cram. Make time for fun and build positive relationships, having people who you enjoy and trust can help you deal with your challenges. Finally, learn how to relax your body, find what makes you feel calm, and learn and practice breathing exercises to use when you’re caught up in a stressful situation.
Due to social anxiety, fear of failure, and the struggle of balancing extracurriculars, school is the number one trigger that brings out stress amongst teenagers around the world causing them to experience emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral changes. Students face stress every day and are constantly pressured by peers, teachers, and family which can cause even more stress. Social stress is a real thing and because of how advanced our technology is today and how addicted the youth is to social media, their stress can be even larger in school. The school doesn’t have to be a stressful place and can be very useful if you learn how to deal with stress. There are many ways teenagers can grow, learn how to cope with their stress, and help their peers succeed as well. By focusing on yourself and learning when too much is too much, you can limit stress, and do well in school. It all starts with you.
- Lyness, D'Arcy. “Stress for Teens.”, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Jan. 2017. Web. 6 November.2019. kidshealth.org/en/teens/stress.html.
- Mazziotta, Julie. “Teen Stress Is on the Rise: Why It's a Major Problem, and How You Can Help.” PEOPLE.com, May 14, 2018, Web. 1 November.2019. people.com/health/teen-stress-rising-what-to-do/.
- Smith, Kathleen. “6 Common Triggers of Teen Stress.” Psycom.net Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986, 2018, Web. 1 November.2019. www.psycom.net/common-triggers-teen-stress/.
- Whyte, Angus. “Teen Stress and Anxiety: Facts and Statistics.” Evolve Treatment Centers, 29 May 2019, Web. 6 November.2019. evolvetreatment.com/blog/teen-stress-and-anxiety-facts-and-statistics/.