“I absolutely hated the high school years of my life. My dad was a real estate agent and because of his job, we had to move often. I switched communities and schools so many times, I never really had a close-knit group of friends. It was painfully hard to be at different schools all the time, and I was so overwhelmed with stress, I began to cut myself to release the tension inside me. I know my brother did it as well, and not long after, my parents noticed this. We all sat down one night and had a deep family discussion. My dad finally changed his job and we finally settled down. I’m much happier now in college.”
“I was 15 years old, when I fell into a romantic relationship with a gorgeous chick who was 2 years my senior. We were madly in love with each other. After a while, she began to coax me into having sex with her. I know this is odd, and it’s pretty rare for a guy to turn down sex with someone as hot as she is, but I did. I told her about my wanting to save it for marriage. Soon, she started to distant herself from me and turned cold towards me. For nights I couldn’t sleep and days I couldn’t eat. I thought and thought about whether I should have said yes to her. It was very, very stressful. I’m glad I had a talk with my best friend and parents and decided to completely end the relationship with her. It was for the best.”
“I come from a family of high achievers. So it was only natural of my parents to have the same high expectations of me. I myself set exceedingly great targets to achieve. Then, for one assessment I had in school, I ended up with a C-. I was crushed. I had never, ever gotten anything below an A before in any of my tests. I didn’t dare tell my parents, or any of my siblings. I cried myself to sleep for nights. That lasted for one week. One entire week of stress, frustration and disappointment. Little did I know my friends found out about my results and informed my parents about it. One day I came home to find all of them; my parents, siblings, friends, plus my teacher, gathered at my place where they threw me a surprise ‘cheer-up’ party. Best day of my life.”
What is STRESS?
Stress is our body’s way of responding to a demand. It is the emotional and physical strain experienced when faced with an external pressure.
Stress faced by a typical adolescent
What causes Stress??
· Problems or issues with peers
o Being teased or verbally tormented
o Being ‘left out’
· Relationship issues
o Quarrels/ misunderstandings with a loved one
o Family problems/ conflicts
§ Separation or divorce of parents
§ financial issues
§ sibling rivalry
o Dating insecurities
§ Not good enough for the partner
§ Pressurized into having sex
o break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
o death of a loved one
· school-related problems or pressures
o exam stress
§ Have very high expectations
o workload stress
§ Involved in too many activities or projects
§ Many responsibilities
§ Poor time management
o changing schools
§ difficulty making friends
· negative thoughts, feelings, or behaviors
o low self esteem/ confidence
o inferiority complex
· Appearance issues
o Pressure to look good
· Environment issues
o Moving to a new community
o Unsafe neighbourhood
o Uncomfortable with pubertal changes
How do I Know If I’m Stressed??
Stress leads to an...
↑ in heart rate
↑ in blood pressure
↑ in respiratory rate
↑ in cortisol (a hormone produced by the adrenal glands)
Psychological Symptoms :
Lack of concentration
Did you Know??
- Girls are more easily affected emotionally by stress compared to boys. However, physiologically, girls exhibit smaller changes in blood pressure when stressed compared to boys.
- Girls – more open and willing to seek help from others to reduce stress.
- Boys - when stressed, will keep it inside them, try to ignore it, or push it out of their minds by getting involved in other activities.
A study was conducted to see how both female and male adolescents cope with stress.
For boys approximately
- 30% avoided or refused to deal with their stress,
- 26% sought ways to distract themselves away from their stress,
- 19% sought support
- 38% actively tried to reduce their stress.
For girls, approximately
- 21% avoided or refused to deal with their stress,
- 16% sought ways to distract themselves away from their stress,
- 27% sought support, and
- 52% actively tried to remove or reduce their stress.
Curious still? Read more here.
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How do we help them deal with stress?
1. Spot likely sources of stress.
2. Help the adolescent to identify them.
3. Encourage him/ her to talk and discuss about it.
I. Be willing to listen and be patient
II. Offer reassurance, encouragement, and support
III. Be willing to provide verbal or physical comfort
IV. Promote self expression of their feelings in forms of poems , essays, drawings
V. Engage them in fun and enjoyable activities (eg. sports, shopping outings)
What Happens when one is overloaded with stress??
Ø Withdraws from society or keeps to oneself
Ø Becomes aggressive
Ø Falls ill easily
Ø Turns to drugs or alcohol
Ø Inflicts self-injury
Ø Has eating disorders
Ø May have suicidal tendencies