7 Myths About Teen Stress

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16 Jun 7 Myths About Teen Stress

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Understanding teen stress might be complicated, but it is important. According to a 2014 APA study, American teens have reported higher levels of stress than their adult counterparts. However, there are many misconceptions about the causes, symptoms and experiences surrounding teen stress. Understanding the truths behind these myths can go a long way in helping you support your teen when they’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

7 Myths About Teen Stress

By Alyse Kotyk

  • A Teen's Stress isn't "Real"

    By Alyse Kotyk

    Some people might believe that if a teen feels stress, it isn't "real". After all, they haven't experienced "the real world" yet. This myth creates an unfair and unhelpful perception of teens and their emotions. For some teens living with a mental health issue, stress can exacerbate symptoms and worsen their conditions. But no matter the circumstances, stress needs to be taken seriously in order to be handled in a healthy, helpful way.

  • Stress is Terrible! We Must Avoid it at All Costs

    By Alyse Kotyk

    Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to avoid stress altogether. In fact, in some cases, stress is actually beneficial because it can tell us when we're in danger by activating the ["fight or flight" response](https://www.psychologistworld.com/stress/fightflight.php)—giving us the chance to leave a situation or make a change in our lives. Instead, it's more helpful to recognize when we experience stress, why we do and how we can manage and reduce its effects.

  • Since Stress is Impossible to Avoid, There's Nothing to Do About It

    By Alyse Kotyk

    There's the assumption that since stress is unavoidable, there's really no point in doing anything about it. While it's true that stress can be a normal part of life experiences, it's definitely not true that there's nothing we can do about it! Some [great ways to help relieve teen stress](http://www.teenrehab.org/the-6-best-ways-to-relieve-teen-stress/) include deep breathing, listening to [calm and positive music](http://www.teenrehab.org/music-and-relaxation-how-to-help-your-teen-de-stress/), [eating well](http://www.teenrehab.org/7-foods-that-fight-stress/) and getting exercise.

  • Stress is a Great Motivator

    By Alyse Kotyk

    "My teen is unmotivated. Maybe a little stress would do them some good!" Actually, what motivate us are stimulation, engagement and [goal setting](http://www.teenrehab.org/why-you-should-teach-your-teen-about-goal-setting/), not stress. [Stress is generally a negative feeling](https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-myth-stress/201007/isnt-stress-motivator), and while useful in anticipating dangerous situations, it can lead to fatigue and decreased productivity. A more effective way to motivate your teen is through positive encouragement and support for their passions.

  • Chronic Stress Isn't Serious

    By Alyse Kotyk

    Ok. So we've established that teen stress is real, but it's also normal and that there are things we can do to manage it. Then it can't be that harmful, right? Wrong! In fact, ongoing, uninterrupted stress, known as ["toxic stress,"](http://www.teenrehab.org/what-is-toxic-stress/) can actually have adverse effects on the body and mind. In fact, toxic stress, when left untreated, can lead to [heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse or depression](http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/toxic-stress/).

  • No Symptoms? No Stress

    By Alyse Kotyk

    A very dangerous myth about stress is that if your teen doesn't exhibit obvious signs or symptoms of stress (e.g. moodiness, acting out), then they aren't actually stressed. In fact, [stress looks very different for each person](http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-teens.aspx), so it could be that your teen simply shows stress in a way that is unfamiliar to you. Or they might even be trying to mask their symptoms. The best way around this? Open communication. Be sure to regularly talk with your teen about how they're doing and ask if they're experiencing any pressures or problems. If you [listen](http://www.teenrehab.org/honing-your-listening-skills-tips-for-listening-as-a-parent/) to your teen, they'll feel comfortable sharing their struggles.

  • Stress is Only Caused By Negative Events

    By Alyse Kotyk

    It can be pretty easy to assume that only negative moments create stress. So, if things are generally going well for your teen, then they shouldn't be stressed, right? In fact, this is another misconception. Even positive or exciting life events can bring stress. Prom, heading off to college, starting a new job—all of these can be really awesome times in a teen's life, but they can also heighten the body's response system and develop symptoms of stress or worry. In other words, be sure to check in with your teen about how they're feeling during these times as well.

Sometimes stress can be an indicator of a larger underlying issue. In that case, you can seek professional counseling services that can help your teen treat their condition more effectively.

Feature Photo: Jake Melara

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