In recent years, stress and anxiety have become more prevalent, especially among young people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 31.9% of adolescents aged 13-18 in the United States experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year.
The jury is out about what is causing the increasing adolescent stress and anxiety rates. Some experts believe it’s due to screen time and social media, while others blame tough exams at school or a lack of social integration. Either way, the skyrocketing rates of youth mental health issues are a cause for concern.
The Prevalence of Stress and Anxiety Among Young People
We’ll start with some eye-opening statistics:
- 1 in 3 adolescents ages 13 to 18 experience an anxiety disorder.
- Between 2007 and 2012, anxiety disorders increased by 20%.
- 40% of youths report feeling irritable due to stress, while 37% report feelingoverwhelmed.
- 30% of youths feel sad or depressed because of stress.
- 60% of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression.
- Only 36.9% of people with an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
- People who experience anxiety are three to five times more likely to need medical care for other conditions or symptoms.
How Stress and Anxiety Affect Teens
Stress is a normal reaction to challenging stimuli. For example, if you feel stressed before a big test – that’s normal! However, stress can become detrimental when it becomes chronic. This means it’s persistent and affects your daily life and ability to function optimally.
- A decline in your performance at school.
- Feeling socially disconnected, lonely or isolated.
- Trouble remembering things and staying concentrated during class.
- Feeling constantly tired and lethargic.
- Increased irritability.
- Ruminating thoughts and worries.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Avoiding activities that you once enjoyed.
These are just a few things that can happen when you experience anxiety and stress. Over time, these can get worse. A decline in academic performance may prevent you from passing tests, exacerbating the stress and anxiety you already experience.
One thing is for sure: it’s time to combat stress and enjoy your youth.
What Causes Stress and Anxiety?
The first step in combating stress and anxiety is understanding the causes. Young people today face a variety of stressors, including academic pressure, social media, peer pressure, and family conflicts.
The pressure to succeed in school and extracurricular activities can be overwhelming, and the constant use of social media can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. Additionally, family conflicts and changes such as divorce or moving can add to young people’s stress.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that you can use to effectively combat stress and anxiety, so that you can excel at school, build friendships, and enjoy extracurricular activities and achieve your full potential.
The Top Ways to Combat Stress and Anxiety
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a simple but effective technique to help young people reduce stress and anxiety. It involves sitting quietly, focusing on the present moment, and observing thoughts and feelings without judgment. By practicing mindfulness regularly, young people can learn to manage stress and anxiety more effectively.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2016 asked children to practice mindfulness meditation three times per week for eight weeks. After the study, the children reported feeling more positive, attention problems were reduced, and fewer day-to-day issues were internalized. Overall, the researchers found a significant benefit in children practicing mindfulness meditation to improve markers of psychological well-being.
2. Move Your Body
Physical exercise is an excellent way for young people to combat stress and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Regular exercise also improves sleep quality, boosts self-esteem, and promotes overall health and well-being.
A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2020 reviewed studies on using exercise for stress reduction in youths. The researchers found that exercise was an effective way to improve adolescent mental health.
3. Get a Handle on Your Time
One of the biggest sources of stress for young people is time management. With so many activities and responsibilities, it can be challenging to balance everything. In fact, 59% of youths say balancing their activities causes stress.
However, learning effective time management skills can help young people feel more in control and reduce stress levels. By setting priorities and using time efficiently, you won’t let things pile up and get overwhelming. For example, you’ll give yourself a 30-minute break after school before starting homework. Once this becomes a daily routine, the stress of homework will be alleviated because it’s already ingrained in your routine.
4. Increase Your Social Network IRL
You might have 1,000 friends on social media – but how about real life? Increasing your social network will give you more social support, which can be a critical factor in managing stress and anxiety.
5. Focus on Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for young people to thrive and develop mentally and physically. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, exacerbating stress and anxiety. Young people should aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, which might mean no screens after 9 pm! But accepting this step can have a profound impact on your stress levels.
6. Eat the Rainbow
Nutrition is the forgotten component when people try to improve their mental health. A healthy, balanced, colorful diet can help regulate mood and energy levels, which can reduce stress and anxiety. Young people should aim to eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. That’s why we recommend “eating the rainbow” – a diet that is naturally colorful, full of vitamins and minerals.
7. Learn Some Relaxation Techniques
Finally, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation can be helpful tools in your stress and anxiety toolkit. For example, if you feel anxious during class, taking a few intentional deep breaths can help you feel grounded in your body and less anxious.
In conclusion, stress and anxiety are serious issues that affect young people today.
Fortunately, there are several effective strategies that can help to combat stress and anxiety. By practicing mindfulness, getting regular exercise, managing time effectively, seeking social support, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and using relaxation techniques, you can learn to manage stress and anxiety and get the most out of life.
Remember: You’ve got this!