Teens Are More Stressed Than Ever

Stressed teens

A new study that came out about stress and teens shows that stress related to school and family finances affects teens more than their parents realize. According to the study, 45% of tweens and teens say their stress has increased over the past year and 26% say they’ve worried more this year. But apparently many parents aren’t on the same page. In fact, only slightly more than half the parents of these teens agreed their children’s lives were more stressful. What does this mean? Are parents totally out of touch with what’s really going on with their teens?

Psychologist Katherine Nordal thinks so. “It’s clear that parents do not fully appreciate the impact that stress is having on their kids. What we’re seeing with stress is in line with existing research about parents’ perception of their kids’ engagement in risky behaviors. Parents often under report drug use, depression and sexual activity in their children. Now it appears the same may be true for stress,” she says.

The same study says that teens are experiencing more symptoms of stress, like anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and changes in appetite, even though their parents might not even realize these things are going on.

So, why are parents in the dark? Is it because they are more stressed out in their own lives and therefore don’t have the energy to tune in as well with their kids? Or is it because in this era where teens, especially girls, are expected to do it all and make it look effortless (what Liz Funk writes about in ), teens themselves are not letting their parents know what’s really going on in their emotional lives?

Whatever the reason, the only way this statistic is going to turn around is by people getting real. Because despite all the outside very real causes of stress (grades, money, family pressures, friendship drama, overbooked schedules, etc.), perhaps the biggest source of stress in the lives of teens is the pressure they put on themselves. By being open and honest and real about what’s really going on and the challenges they face, this idea that everyone has to excel at everything will be revealed for what it is – an impossible standard that can never be met.

If you’re experiencing stress in your life, here are some quick stress-reducing strategies to try out:

  1. Scream into a pillow
  2. Escape with a video game
  3. Get some fresh air
  4. Take a brisk walk
  5. Take a hot shower
  6. Break your routine (walk home from school a new way, explore a new place, etc.)
  7. Do a muscle check, notice where you are carrying tension, and focus on relaxing
  8. Find a “theme song” that makes you feel happy, calm, and hopeful (mine right now is I Believe from Spring Awakening)
  9. Give yourself a head massage
  10. Plan a reward for later in day (think of something to look forward to)

For in-depth strategies on chilling out for teens, check out my book Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You.


  1. Mathew Edvik (Teen Esteem Council) Said,

    November 12, 2009 @ 6:18 am

    I think there are two important stress reducing techniques that I have learned.

    1. When you are overwhelmed with things to do, choose the one or two that you know are the most important and that will have the biggest impact. Make sure to focus on getting those done. Sometimes I tend to worry about a lot of little things that aren’t going to matter much in the long run. If I let those small worries get in the way of getting the most important things done then the stress levels rise. But if I am getting the most important things done the little things seem to take care of themselves.

    2. I find that I feel much less stress if I can find a few minutes a day to practice meditation. When I am done I am calm and relaxed and feel ready to take on the days events.

    I hope these tips help.

  2. Chilling with Young Women’s Leadership Program Said,

    February 8, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    […] stressed? Read this previous post for more tips on de-stressing from my book, Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, […]

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