It’s impossible for teenagers to completely avoid stress. Stress can sometimes be a motivator that leads to better performance in school, sports, or other extracurricular activities. But when it becomes too intense, it can take a physical and mental toll.
The 2020 American Psychological Association (APA) Stress in America™ study measured the impact of external sources of stress. Children ages 13-17 reported experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19 lockdowns and uncertainty about their futures. While the pandemic may be an extreme example of a stressor, it illustrates how sensitive teens can be to forces out of their control.
What triggers a stress reaction varies from teen to teen. But there are some common stressors that can negatively influence teenage thoughts and feelings. Examples include:
- Academic Pressure. Whether it comes from parents, peers, or the teen themselves, the pressure to make good grades can sometimes be overwhelming.
- Family Issues. Family stressors can include financial issues, separation or divorce of parents, or conflicts with siblings.
- Social Media. Many social media platforms are addictive and can contribute to a teen’s anxiety, low self-esteem, and fear of missing out (FOMO); or even make them a target of cyberbullying.
- Overpacked Schedules. When a teen’s schedule is jammed with rehearsals, training, competitions, performances, or other commitments, it can turn up the stress dial.
Emotional episodes or outbursts can be a common reaction to these and other stressors for some adolescents.