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During adolescence, youths are exposed to physical, mental, and social changes as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Naturally, this transition can lead to an increase in stress levels, as teens and young adults attempt to gain coping skills needed to manage their changing environment. Adolescence and stress are frequently linked, since the rapid shift of responsibilities, emotions, and even physical attributes can seem overwhelming at times.
One major factor that can influence adolescence and stress is a growing rate of responsibilities. As students transition into junior high and high school, classes may become more difficult, homework assignments lengthier, and grades more important to success. Students may also be faced with increasing responsibilities elsewhere, such as maintaining a part-time job, completing more difficult chores at home, and preparing for college and their adult future. It's not uncommon for students to feel increased stress about school and home responsibilities, especially students who have a drive and desire to perform well.
The development of a complex social environment is another factor that links adolescence and stress. Whereas young children may find life at home to be the most important source of love and social activity, adolescents tend to put greater emphasis on their relationships with peers. Since adolescence also brings about the start of sexual maturation, teenagers not only have to deal with the culture of friendship, but the introduction of romantic relationships. While friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends can contribute greatly to a teen's happiness, they can also be a source of stress and anxiety.
Physical and psychological changes can also be an intense component of adolescence and stress. As children grow into their adult bodies, they are often confronted with a growing emphasis on looks and appearance. This can lead to serious self-image problems, high anxiety, and even depression, as teens worry they are not attractive enough, or that they don't look like the rest of their peers. Self-image problems can be very destructive in adolescence, leading some teens to develop eating disorders, try out risky diets, or even take drugs such as steroids in order to develop a preferred physique.
With so many factors linking adolescence and stress, parents and teens must work carefully to help manage stress levels throughout this transitional period of life. Parents can help teens manage these issues by creating a stable, safe home environment, and keeping an open line of communication with teens. Adolescents may also manage stress better if they are able to indulge in personal hobbies, such as sports, cooking, or creative writing, that make them feel good about themselves. While an active academic and social life can help teens manage stress, it is also important to make sure they do not take on too many activities and responsibilities. Finding a workable balance between work and fun, combined with an environment where teens feel safe talking about their concerns, can go a long way toward managing stress during adolescence.