While a certain amount of stress is normal, if it goes on long enough or gets bad enough, it can lead to physical or mental health conditions that require professional treatment. However, there are ways to combat this ongoing issue.
Stress is a common emotional and psychological reaction for teens, often a result of both internal and external changes. And today’s fast-paced, technology-saturated climate doesn’t help. "In small doses, stress can help us get things done.," said Kristin Wilson, Director of Clinical Outreach at Newport Academy, a teen treatment center. "However, teens today experience stress in more than small doses. It’s essential for them to learn how to manage it."
When stress continues over a long period of time, it’s known as chronic stress, which can cause long-term health effects, such as heart disease, obesity, digestive issues, decreased immunity, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Therefore, it’s important for teens to start managing their stress early, to avoid these issues. "In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors, we need to provide teens with better support," said Wilson. "It's very important for teenagers to learn to understand and work through their stress factors."
Coping mechanisms vary according to a teen’s personal preference. While some teenagers prefer to meditate and do yoga, others enjoy vigorous exercise or playing a sport. "There are many ways to combat your stressors," said Wilson. "Some of the most common methods are simple. Controlled breathing helps calm the nervous system, and getting more sleep can be very beneficial as well."
Stress can be a scary thing for teenagers to deal with, but learning how to manage these feelings can support them for the rest of their life. "Teens and their parents don’t have to accept stress as a given," said Wilson. "The more often teens can activate the nervous system's relaxation response, the more benefits they will feel, in both mind and body."
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