A recent survey of more than 1,000 teens, released by the American Psychological Association, reports that teens describe experiencing stress similar to patterns that adults indicate. In fact, the teens surveyed described levels of stress during the school year to be higher than those that adults report.
Teens describe their stress levels as being higher than what they believe is healthy and report feeling overwhelmed, depressed, sad. In addition, they state that fatigue is a big issue. However, an interesting piece of information gleaned from the survey shows teens do not feel that stress is having a negative impact on their physical or mental health.
It is concerning that the data show that teens are experiencing stress similar to adults, but at a much younger age, while underestimating the mental and physical health impacts. What this means is that we must consider how early stress is actually understood as a life experience by teens and yet they minimize its potential negative impact. This is important for a number of reasons.
We do know that cumulative stress can have an even greater impact on health and well being. We also know that if teens are minimizing the impact of stress they are likely to be less inclined to believe in and adopt healthy life styles, including exercise, regular sleep, and nutritious eating habits. They often turn to electronics rather than being active or interpersonally engaged.
YHC is marking our 20th year with a focus on Healthy Lifestyles: Focus on the Family. It is critical that we positively role model positive stress management strategies including exercise, healthy food choices, sleep hygiene, meditation and the fun factor. We need to use language that describes how we feel and how we take an active, pro active approach to managing our stress levels. As adults we must embrace the power our voices and behavior bring to our teens and teach them early to live healthy lives.