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According to dictionary.com, stress is defined as “importance attached to a thing.” As teenagers, we are constantly bombarded with homework, college, and the future, and it can become very stressful. Stress has a lot of causes and effects on teenagers, and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming. As a teenager myself, I have found that sometimes when I get too stressed, I get flustered. Like other teenagers, I would like to know what causes so much stress, how it affects me, and how I can prevent it.
There are many ways students can become stressed. One reason could be upcoming tests. “In stressful situations, such as before and during an exam, the body releases a hormone called adrenaline.” says VeryWellMind December 2018, “This helps prepare the body to deal with what is about to happen and is commonly referred to as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.” students worry about good grades and making time to study. Stressing over tests affects all kinds of students, not just struggling students.
How it works
Another reason teenagers can become stressed is speaking in class. A lot of students have something called stage fright. Some assignments in high school require you to present something to the class, read out of a book, or even get called on in class. Jerry Seinfeld, a stand-up comedian, and actor, once said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Homework can be the number one cause of student stress. Stanford University conducted research in 2013 that found that “students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from society.” Students are found doing hours of homework a night, making no time for them to be social with other students. More than seventy percent of students said that they were stressed over homework. Less than one percent of students said homework was not a stressor.
Stress can affect us mentally and physically. While some stress is good for you, our bodies are not supposed to handle stress in large quantities, only in small safe quantities. According to The American Institute of Stress, eight out of ten students say they sometimes experienced stress in their daily lives over the past three months. This is an increase of 20% from a survey five years ago.
There are a lot of physical effects to stress. According to Mayo Clinic, stress can lead to chronic conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and even diabetes. The most common effects of stress on the body are headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, and sleeping problems.
There might be a lot of effects on your body, but there are even more effects on your mental health. According to MentalHelp.net, stress can cause depression. Byproducts of stress hormones can be similar to sedatives, chemical substances which make us become calm or even tired. When these hormone byproducts occur in large quantities, they may contribute to a feeling of low energy or depression. Students may come to school every day with a different mood. Usually, stress is the cause of this. Kids may be frustrated in class, or maybe they aren’t paying attention simply because they are worrying about the next hour’s test or how they didn’t turn a paper in on time.
Stress can also cause anxiety. Chronic Activation of stress hormones can contribute to large feelings of anxiety like a racing heartbeat, nausea, sweaty palms, feeling helpless, and sensing upcoming doom. Thinking patterns that lead to stress can also leave people vulnerable to intense anxiety feelings. This can make students not want to talk one-on-one with a teacher, not talk to other students, and even not want to raise their hands to answer questions.
Stress can also alter the operation and structure of some aspects of the nervous system. Stress hormones may decrease the functioning of brain cells in a section of the brain that is called the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is important for long-term memories, and in the frontal lobes, the part of the brain that makes us pay attention and filter out irrelevant things. Therefore, people who are stressed may experience confusion, difficulty concentrating, trouble learning new information, and problems with decision-making. This can cause students to wander off during class and not absorb any new information.
Stress can also affect personality. Some people experience personality changes because of stress hormones, which are part of their internal environment. People who are stressed can become irritable, hostile, frustrated, aggressive, angry, and many other things. Because of this, students can become someone they don’t want to be. Snapping at their friends for no reason, talking back to teachers, and even causing problems with other students.
According to business insider, there are eight steps to reduce stress. One, Become aware of your stressors. Two, Learn to quickly reverse your stress response. Three, Take care of your body; four, Get into the right frame of mind. Five, Cut down on stressors with systems and better time management, six, Avoid toxic people. Seven, Put positive psychology into action, and eight, Practice long-term resilience-forming habits.
The causes of stress, like homework, public speaking, and upcoming tests, can be hard on students. Most teenagers who have depression, anxiety, and personality changes are because of stress. Even though we feel like we can’t ever get rid of stress, there is always a way to get through it. Teens may feel overwhelmed with stress, but if teens are taught how to control their stress, they might feel better.
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