You’re coming of age at a time when being stressed is not an occasional feeling—say, like right before a test—it’s the new normal. Experts point to a toxic brew of everything from social media to divisive politics. On top of that, you have the usual stressors (homework, friend drama, and all-around pressure to succeed). But while everyone else in your life is telling you to “just relax,” we’re going to break stress down for you: what it is, how to deal, and why it’s not as terrifying as it may seem.
Stress is nothing new. As long as there have been deadlines and expectations—whether from a parent, teacher, or boss—people have dealt with the gut-punching feeling of being under pressure. What worries experts is that adolescents’ stress levels are higher than ever before. One recent study found that today’s teenagers are even more stressed out than adults. What’s going on?
Your parents may point a finger at late nights spent on your phone or peer pressure from classmates, but we know that you’re actually stressed out about the big stuff, like your future (hello, college!) and academics. In fact, when we polled Choices readers, almost all of you said that school is a major cause of your stress.
“Although school can be rewarding at times, it can definitely be overwhelming,” says Claire Blose, a high school senior in Middletown, New Jersey. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to complete everything that I want to get done, which in turn stresses me out!” Yeah. We’re guessing you can relate.