The X generation of the 21st century is a world of youngsters working towards building CVs, having a successful family and love life, and even carrying multiple society-related responsibilities. Amidst the vehement competition and hustle-bustle of daily life, losing our way is a common affair. But what is drastic is losing our mind.
Mental Health is recognizably the most important aspect of our well-being and personality, and it’s not just about being exempt from psychological illnesses. It also involves freedom from the clutches of sadness, worry, stress and other such unpleasant feelings that result in an adolescents’ life due to the multiple stressors that they are faced with.
Stress is indeed something that can light up the bodily response as if an electric charge just ran through. It can motivate, energize and even strengthen. However, this “Eustress” (good stress) may take no time to become “Distress” (bad stress), and it is this latter manifestation of stress that devastates. A stressor, if prolonged, can exhaust vital resources, hamper the immune system and disrupt mental health causing isolation, feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and even mania.
Not surprisingly enough, various tests have revealed that a significant number of adolescents are disposed to a large number of factors and stressors that cause damage of mental and physical health. A test conducted on a significant sample of teen school-goers in Karnataka, India revealed that almost 63% of them experience interpersonal stress and 70% displayed various manifestations of depression.
They are right to say that school and college are the most important environments that expose students to both good and bad experiences, activities, and people, during their crucial teen years. In such a scenario, the most common stressors faced by school and college goers are peer pressure (for maintaining standards of trends, for experimenting with drugs or alcohol, for being of particular shape or size, etc.), fulfilling parental expectations for good grades, making a stand of self in society, channeling sexual and other hormonal feelings in the right direction and dealing with crammed schedules, job pressures and social life.
As a consequence of various school/ peer-based requirements or expectations, adolescents skip meals, over-eat, sleep late into the night or exert their bodies beyond capacity. Sadly, it takes them to a path of self-destruction which involves the deterioration of mental health, physical resources and behavioral abilities. Symptoms of peer pressure may include teens breaking down frequently, being anorexic/ bulimic, lashing out in anger often and experimenting with alcohol, drugs or sexual activities. Similar symptoms follow stressors faced by adolescents at home, the worst of which is a divorce, death or financial crisis in the family.
Such circumstances may burden the mind with pangs of panic and anxiety in a way that mental health of the young adult is immensely disrupted, causing them to withdraw from school, society and following unhealthy paths. Pressure from parents to qualify for a university or job, securing top-of-the-class marks, etc. also drastically impact the way a teen behaves or sustains themselves. When school-based burdens combine with home-based pressures, it results in a situation devastating for teenage mental health and physical well-being. Subsequently, young lives find themselves feeling hopeless, tired, anxious, depressed and confused.
Immediate attention needs to be given to the mental health of every adolescent around the world, especially in these increasingly competitive and pressurizing times.
The first key to helping resolve most types of teenage stress involves a contribution from parents. Parents have the responsibility and potential to understand their children’s problems and find solutions and motivations to guide their lives. This can be done through friendly conversations, by spending quality family time and by teaching teens about how they must create harmony with their changing internal (hormonal) and external (social) environments, helping them to cope with stress.
Teenagers should focus on techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, following positivity and discipline, exercising and eating proper meals, making achievable schedules and doing creative visualization, and most importantly, telling themselves, “I can do this.”
Indeed, stressors are many and pressure is intense. But it is ultimately about time management and understanding of such stress while taking steps to deal with said stress that can make our lives better, and perhaps, easier to live through.