What you can do about the problems teens rank most stressful

Upset stomach… headache … tense muscles … even just a nervous, edgy feeling.

Sound familiar? Stress isn’t just for overworked corporate executives. You may be suffering from it – lots of teens do.

Where are your stress points?

Stress comes from many directions. Do any of these situations apply to you: a failing grade in school, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a heavy after-school schedule, a death in the family? All of these rate high as stress-producers.

A major source of stress for adults is the job. Your job right now may be school, where you’re expected to perform just as adults are expected to perform at work. And that puts the pressure on. Friendships are important to teens, and losing a close friend – whether because of a death, a move to another town or an argument – can bring a lot of stress. And when divorce shatters the special friendship between your parents, it can be quite devastating.

Not all stress is from something negative. Even something wonderful in your life can cause you to feel stress.

Stress can lead to other problems, especially if it gets out of control. Did you know that stress can even lower your IQ?

A study showed that family stress actually lowered the IQ of children involved by an average of 13 percent.

Defusing your stress bomb

There are many things you can do to help keep the pressure from becoming too great.

If the stress comes from a full schedule, as it does for many students, maybe you need to re-evaluate what’s really most important to you and cut out a few of the less important things. Lots of people don’t realize that relaxation is an important activity!

Getting accepted to the college you’ve been wanting to go to is great, but suddenly you may start worrying whether you’ll be able to stand the pressure. Or maybe you get an after-school job to try to save up some tuition money and it takes up most of your study and leisure time.

You may find that you have to cut out half your after-school activities to get things under control. In a similar way, being chosen to be on a sports team is a great accomplishment, but to stay on the team, you are pressured to succeed. Once again, there is stress.

Remember that people are more important than things. Spending time with the people you love, like brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents, can help you relax and appreciate the good parts of your life. Sharing and caring defuse stress.

If your source of stress is a family tragedy, such as death or divorce, you can’t do anything about the source itself.

Instead you’ll have to work to make yourself strong enough to handle it. An important help at this time is someone to talk to – someone close enough to understand what hurts you and mature enough to help.

A good listener who cares about you can help you defuse your stress. And even if you feel like you have no close friends at the moment, God Himself is an excellent listener.

Your physical condition and stress

There are also many little things that you can change to lower your stress. Diet is a big factor in stress, according to a psychologist who runs a stress clinic for children and teenagers. She names five principal diet villains in stress: sugar. caffeine, salt, chemical additives and junk food.

Often when someone encounters a major change of some kind in life, the first reaction is to change eating and sleeping habits. Are you eating at least one hot, balanced meal a day? With a hectic junior high or high school schedule, you may just be snacking.

You need real food – especially breakfast – to keep your body strong. And don’t cheat yourself of needed sleep and relaxation.

Caffeine can make you even more shaky. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping yourself going with shots of coffee or high-caffeine soft drinks. The burst of energy you feel is nervous energy and will just add to your feeling of stress. Besides that, eventually you will use up that artificial energy and be left with less than ever, your natural energy reserves used up. Exercise is probably more important to reducing stress than you realize. Much of the stress you feel is mental exhaustion, from tension, and surprisingly the answer to releasing the tension is in getting physically tired. Often when you exercise you’ll find that your mind is clearer.

A leading expert on stress says that just being in good physical condition helps you to deal with the physical effects of stress. The exercise can be going for a run, playing a strenuous game of tennis (as long as the competition doesn’t increase your stress level) or doing some physically demanding work around your home. It’s especially invigorating to do some job that shows quick results you can be proud of. Your feeling of accomplishment can also help defuse your stress.

Many stresses can be better handled just by realizing that they aren’t permanent. You will graduate from high school someday and then you won’t have those classes to worry about. You will make other friends eventually; everybody loses friendships and although that hurts terribly, the hurt doesn’t last forever. And although it may sound callous, families heal too, or at least learn to live with things the way they are.

Turning it to your advantage

You may find that stress can be turned to your advantage. You couldn’t accomplish as much as you do without it. Some stress contributes toward excellence.

“‘Don’t try to avoid stress – it’s the very salt and spice of life … but do learn to master and to use it!” Imagine yourself as a star pitcher for the Los Angeles, California, Dodgers baseball team. There you are on the mound, coolly concentrating, and then you let fly with your lightning-fast screwball. Do you think you don’t feel stress? Of course you do. You just focused it into that powerful left arm. You uses stress in a positive way.

Whatever happens, you can’t let your life be taken over by stress. It’s just part of living. It comes when you expect a lot of yourself and other people, and it comes when you want to achieve.

Stress comes from successes and disappointments. And it will always be with you, from one source or another. Learn to deal with it now, and you will be able to handle it later, too.

What’s Stressful to Teens?

What is stressful to you? In a survey, more than 100 teenagers were asked what situations on the following list cause them the most stress. Let’s take a look at their answers, with No. 1 being the situations picked as stressful by the most young people (most common, not necessarily most severe).

1. Increased arguments with parents
2. Concern about doing right (peer pressure)
3. Too-busy school schedule
4. Problems with classmates
5. Problems with brothers/ sisters
6. Poor grades and trouble with schoolwork
7. Concern about what to do after graduation
8. Marital problems between parents
9. Loss of close friend
10. Parent losing a job or other financial downturn
11. Change to a new school
12. Problems with teachers
13. Breakup with girl friend / boyfriend
14. Personal illness or injury
15. Serious illness in family
16. Death in the family
17. Brother or sister leaving home
18. Moving to a new home
19. Pressure on the job
20. Serious illness or death of a close friend

Stress comes from different sources for different people .Age makes a big difference in what causes stress.

A major cause of stress is what to do with your life after graduation. And problems within the families may caused increasing stress as you reached later teen years.

Younger teens mention problems with poor grades and classmates as major problems. “Another stress is trying hard as you can and getting a low grade. "It’s hard when you give 100 percent and get a C”

What causes you stress? How have you learned to deal with it?

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Maria Stahl ‘Youth’

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