three teenaged girls sitting on the groundIf you think your life is stressful, you should talk to a teenager. A recent survey found that teens report experiencing greater levels of stress than adults, primarily due to school. Stress impacts teens both psychologically and physically, so it is critical that parents and educators support teens in finding ways to combat stress.

Last August, an online survey was conducted for the American Psychological Association. The data was gathered through self-reported questionnaires, which asked about causes of stress, activity levels, and more among teens and adults.

“Many American teens report experiencing stress at unhealthy levels, appear uncertain in their stress management techniques and experience symptoms of stress in numbers that mirror adults’ experiences,” explains the Stress in America report.

The vast majority of teens (83%) found school to be a “somewhat or significant source of stress,” with 27% of teens reporting “extreme stress” during the school year, but only half of the extremely stressed teens felt the same level of stress during the summer. School is the major cause of stress and 10% of students stated that they felt school negatively affected their grades. Meanwhile, 60% of teens found managing all of their activities was somewhat or very significantly stressful.

Stress has a negative impact on the health of teens. As many as a third reported headaches due to stress, and just over 20% reported stomach problems or having skipped a meal due to stress. Many teens (40%) also reported feeling irritable or angry. Although exercise is a well-documented reducer of stress, one-fifth of teens reported exercising once per week at most. Instead of physical activity, teens are seeking solace in sedentary pursuits like video games, going online, or watching television and movies. Teens who exercised at least once weekly reported lower stress than their peers.

Since stress affects teens in all aspects of their lives—at home, at school, and at work—it is important to find ways to help teens mitigate stress and its effects. One answer is increasing the frequency of exercise. It may seem like one more thing to fit into the day’s schedule, but regular physical activity can help reduce stress. Parents and adults who work with teens should also help teens evaluate their activities and schedules to find ways to reduce the amount of stress in their day.

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