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How Much Stress Are We Really Experiencing?

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Is this a normal amount for teens?

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Are teens experiencing an abnormally high level of stress in today's world?

Are teens experiencing an abnormally high level of stress in today's world?

Photo by Creative Commons

Photo by Creative Commons

Are teens experiencing an abnormally high level of stress in today's world?

With midterms right around the corner, who isn’t stressed out? Not to mention course recommendations that are in full motion. Remember that AP class that you really want to get into? Well don’t forget that you have to get an 85 or better on your midterm to get in! This is all on top of the normal amount of homework, projects, and tests that happen year round. While this definitely isn’t a new problem high school students face, it definitely is worth mentioning. Not only can stress impede on other areas of a student’s life, it can also be counterproductive to the thing we are actually stressing about. 

If you ask your parents about their high school experience, they’ll probably express the same overwhelming stress and fear of failure. Or perhaps extreme indifference to school in general. Regardless of your outlook on school and how necessary you feel it is, it is hard to deny that things get overwhelming. But was it always like this?

A semi-annual survey taken by The American Psychological Association concluded that over the years, teens are reporting higher stress levels. In 2017, 34% of teens evaluated reported very/somewhat significant amounts of stress. In 2014, this number was significantly lower, at only 23%. Not only are teen’s stress levels the same, if not higher than those of some adults, the average teen’s concern of the long term physical and mental effects are lower than those of an adult. This means that while a teenager may be experiencing an extreme a mount of stress, they would care significantly less than an adult experiencing the same or less stress. This is a huge problem considering the drug and alcohol epidemic that is already a major issue in the US, with 59,000 to 65,000 people dying from alcohol overdoses in 2016 alone, and nearly half a million people dying form drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015.

Now does this staggering information make it tempting to simply give up and reduce stress levels by not caring? Perhaps. But it is also important to remember that not all stress is a bad thing. A study done by the Journal of Personality and Social Phycology in 2010 suggests that stress in moderation can increase resilience and coping skills and can serve as motivation to do your best. While stressing out for midterms can usually do nothing but motivate you to study hard and receive a good grade, its important to remember that all things are good in moderation, and most importantly, breathe.

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How Much Stress Are We Really Experiencing?