7 Myths About Teen Stress

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.

A Teen’s Stress isn’t “Real”

Photo by Jocelyn Maloney

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

Photo by Olia Gozha

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—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

Photo by Leeroy

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 include deep breathing, listening to calm and positive musiceating well and getting exercise.

Stress is a Great Motivator

Photo by Alex Wong

“My teen is unmotivated. Maybe a little stress would do them some good!” Actually, what motivate us are stimulation, engagement and goal setting, not stress. Stress is generally a negative feeling, 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.

Photo by Jeffjuit

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,” 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.

No Symptoms? No Stress

Photo by Benjamin Combs

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, 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 to your teen, they’ll feel comfortable sharing their struggles.

Stress is Only Caused By Negative Events

Photo by Ariana Prestes

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.

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