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Life Balance: Reduce Stress for Adults and Teens

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 11th, 2014

Teens across the USA are feeling high levels of stress that negatively affects every aspect of their lives, a new national survey suggests. This means that teens need to be taught life balance tools to help combat the stress.

More than a quarter (27%) say they experience “extreme stress” during the school year, and 13% in the summer. And 34% expect stress to increase in the coming year.

life balance - teen stressStressors range from school to friends, work and family. And teens aren’t always using healthy methods to cope, reports the latest Stress in America survey from the Washington, D.C.-based American Psychological Association.

Findings on more than 1,000 teens and almost 2,000 adults suggest that unhealthy behaviors associated with stress may start early and continue through adulthood. With 21% of adults reporting “extreme” stress levels, the survey says that with teens “mirroring adults’ high-stress lives” they are “potentially setting themselves up for a future of chronic stress and chronic illness.”

The report warns that teens are at risk of a variety of physical and emotional illnesses and potentially shorter lifespans than their elders if they don’t act to “reverse their current trajectory of chronic illness, poor health and shorter lifespans.”

“Our study this year gives us a window in looking at how early these patterns might begin,” says clinical psychologist Norman Anderson, the association’s CEO. “The patterns of stress we see in adults seem to be occurring as early as the adolescent years — stress-related behaviors such as lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor eating habits in response to stress.”

Teens’ average stress level was 5.8 out of 10 during the school year and 4.6 in August. Adults reported average levels of 5.1 in August.

As a result of stress, 40% of teens report feeling irritable or angry; 36% nervous or anxious. A third say stress makes them feel overwhelmed, depressed or sad. Teen girls are more stressed than boys, just as women nationally are more stressed than men.

The report says stress appears to be affecting teens’ performance in all aspects of life:

• 59% report that managing their time to balance all activities is a somewhat or very significant stressor;

• 40% say they neglected responsibilities at home because of stress; 21% say they neglected work or school because of stress;

• 32% say they experience headaches because of stress; 26% report changes in sleeping habits;

• 26% report snapping at or being short with classmates or teammates when under stress.

I’ve often said that we adults are always role modeling, whether we want to be or not. To learn symptom of stress and how to increase life balance for yourself and your children, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™.

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