Spring is here, which means waiting for the day when we can shed our winter wardrobes and walk around free of thick layers and cold noses. While the additional sunlight makes this change a pleasant one for most, is also the start to a very stressful time for teens. A slew of end of the year work and exams, with the summer still far in the horizon, can make the spring a time of high pressure and worry for teens.
This pressure, however, does not start or end with spring. According to the American Psychological Association’s annual stress survey, and for the first time in history in 2014, the rate of stress among teens was higher than adults, with the primary source being school. In trying to balance school work, social life, and extracurriculars, many students have schedules so busy it doesn’t allow for time to slow down and enjoy the present.
The additional stress of all the changes that occur during adolescence- physical, emotional, and social, can leave teens feeling overtired and overwhelmed. For teens, even a change of season can signal the threat of new stressors like tryouts for sports teams, changes in friend groups, or more work and evaluations in classes.
While stress and worry are a part of all our lives, too much of it can keep us from enjoying our lives. Worry is often centered around thinking about the past or future. When we are constantly replaying or rehearsing events in the past or the future, we are not living in the present moment. This can be especially true for teens who are thinking about who they are and who they want to be, and how their actions and activities fit into these ideas.
If, however, we can show them how to ground themselves in the present moment, they can learn to recognize when their mind has taken over, and then take steps to calm their minds, center their thoughts, and reduce their stress. This allows them to to deal with the inevitability of change, so that they don’t get so caught up in worrying about it that they miss out on the joys of living.
Stop right now and just take a big breath in through your nose, then let it all out. How do you feel?