Teen stress epidemic

School takes a toll on overworked teens

Gabriel di Gregorio, Reporter

Stress levels in teens are at an all-time high. High school offers a great deal of additional stress which teens often struggle to cope with.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, surveys show that teens, during the school year, experience more stress than adults. On a 10-point scale, teens experience an average stress level of 5.8, nearly 20% higher than the healthy 3.9. The most stressed adults reported only a 5.1 stress level on a 10-point scale.

“Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy,” reports the American Psychiatric Association.

Even during the summer (between August 3 and August 31, when the summer data was taken), teens had a stress level of 4.6 rather than a healthy 3.9 on a 10-point scale.

Due to these substantially higher levels of stress, 30 percent feel depressed, 31 percent are overwhelmed, 36 percent report feeling tired or fatigued and 23 percent report skipping a meal due to stress.

Although teens statistically report higher stress levels than adults, these levels seem to have little or no impact on their physical or mental health.

This problem does not seem to be going away as only 16 percent of teens say their stress level has decreased in the past year. However, 31 percent reported an increase in the past year.

Although teens continue to be more stressed out, some are looking ahead to manage feeling overwhelmed.

“Yes, school is hard and the homework can be a handful, and the AP test can be scary, but the only reason it all matters is the future,” said senior Kayleigh Peters. “Remember that the stress and hard work DO pay off no matter how impossible it may seem.”

Sleep is a large factor in stress levels. Teens on average get much less sleep than adults and far less sleep than the 8.5 (weekdays) to 9.25 (weekends) hours recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.

The essential components of reducing stress include a balanced diet, sleep, exercise, and time management, said psychologist Lauren Thompson. She added that students should learn ways to calm down and reduce anxiety. For example, deep breathing, exercising, or talking to friends can all be helpful.

“Sleep is especially important because it is the time when your body can repair itself,” Thompson said.

Students can feel varying levels of stress. However, time management, exercise, additional sleep or personal ways to relieve stress can help anyone.

“Running every day and faith in my time management reduces my stress to a manageable level,” said senior Daniel Heckman.

The release of endorphins through exercise helps reduce stress levels, said an article on WebMD.

“How I learned to deal with stress was finding things that made me happy and surrounding myself with them,” Peters said.

This change of environment offers a change of scenery which a student may be able to connect more passionately with. When passion is the focal point of life, stress levels seem to decrease.

“I got off social media for a while once I realized how large a part of my life it had become. I learned how to put myself closer to the ‘who comes first’ list,” Peters said. Other students may find getting off of social media could help with reducing overall stress levels.

“People deal with stress differently and can learn methods to help them manage it,” Thompson said. It is important for students to experiment with healthy stress reducers to find what works best for them.

“I recommend people find something they love to use as an anchor or reminder that there are better things to come,” Peters said.