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Stress Coping Mechanisms for Teens and Young Adults.

This time of the year brings the last stretch of school into view for many young adults. With only one more semester to go, students can’t help but think about a fun summer ahead, maybe going off to college and being on their own for the first time, or maybe they’re finishing college and about to face the “real world.” What students sometimes fail to realize is that with lifestyle changes and new responsibilities come a whole mess of stress.

Stress in teens and young adults can affect health.What is Stress?

Known as the fight or flight response, stress is a physical, emotional and mental reaction to change. Stress can often be good for us, pushing us to get work done and stay motivated. However, too much stress can lead to wear and tear on the body. It’s important that parents and their teenagers/young adults understand stress and how to control it.

Stress is caused by many things, such as poor time management and pressures such as housework, roommates, homework, school or work. Many of these stressors will only get worse as students go off to college. Most will have to deal with multiple causes of stress in a day leading to an overwhelmed feeling and overall taking a toll on their health. 

9 Side Effects of Stress 

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Worsening premenstrual syndrome
  • Problems sleeping
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety

For young adults specifically, stress creates detrimental side effects. For one, stress and sleep often create a snowball effect. The more stressed you are, the less you tend to sleep. The less you sleep, the more stressed you get. It’s recommended that teens get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, yet only 15 percent say they get eight hours on school nights. A lack of sleep will make you tired, moody and more likely to fall asleep in class or, dreadfully, behind the wheel of a car.

Additionally, stress tends to change eating habits for the worse. Students refer to weight gain as the dreaded Freshman 15, but stress can show itself in overeating and under-eating. A concerning 25 percent of students admit to skipping meals due to stress, while 13 percent report skipping a meal at least once a week.

According to an American Physiological Association study, teens’ stress levels are reported at a 5.8 on a 10 point scale. That is 1.9 points higher than that of recommended levels and 0.9 points more than adults. 

“When I’m stressed, I tend to not eat as much,” said current college student Angela.

“Also, I tend to spiral when I get stressed out. Usually, it’s panic mode for a little bit until I focus and breathe.”

What to do About Stress

The first step to tackling stress is to teach children coping mechanisms early on. Signs that your child is stressed include irritability, moodiness and feeling sick. By teaching children stress management early on, they will be better prepared for life in the long run. Not surprisingly, students who developed time management skills in high school are more likely to succeed in college. 

During stressful situations, it’s important that young adults avoid overeating, shopping, binge-watching, spending too much time on social media and alcohol consumption. 

Instead, young adults should focus on healthy coping mechanisms against stress, include basic self-care:

9 Methods for Coping With Stress

  • Good sleep
  • Healthy foods
  • Regular meals
  • Physical exercise
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Breathing exercises/meditation/yoga/stretching
  • Staying organized and planning ahead for tests and project due dates
  • Supplements, such as hemp oil extract, L-theanine and complex B vitamin (talk with your physician)
  • Prescription medicine if prescribed by a physician to combat depression and anxiety

If stress is too much and symptoms get worse, talk to your physician. Our physicians can help young adults figure out treatment options and the best ways to cope with stress. Make an appointment today.


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