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According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, one of the biggest social stressors is trying to perform or behave beyond their ability. This could be in terms of social or academic standing. If a student is trying to fit into a group of new peers, they may do things that they would not normally feel comfortable doing, just so that they can fit in. The more that a student thinks that they’re not good enough, the more they could feel like they have to try and be someone different or to do something uncomfortable.
In an academic setting, students may feel like they have to perform at the top of their classes. The College Board did a study that concluded that between the years of 2003 and 2013, there was a 7.9 increase of students taking honors and AP classes. Nowadays, students think that they have to perform at a certain level of excellence, especially in these types of classes, just to be normal.
Whether that’s getting up and doing oral reports if a student is shy or striving to perform the best in a certain class, the student today has a lot on their plate, socially and academically.
|Photo courtesy of Adventure Family in Motion|
Student stresses were listed as:
- Time management
- College Applications
- Getting the grades needed to apply to a good college
As far as faculty goes, there was a smaller range of answers. The most popular answers were:
- Time management
- Fitting in
- “Getting a date”
- Being accepted
- Getting into college
One of the reasons given was, “I think students now have these same issues as we did; however, I think they have more distractions today than when I was in high school. Computers and devices were not as common and we did not have to deal with those as a way to distract us from our learning. I also think that more research and time has been invested in teaching students how to study and giving them the scaffolding/tools to help them learn their best. I think that is different then when I was in high school.”
Another great way to destress is to focus on creating a change in mindset, turning “I can’t’ to “I can.” In a recent study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Rochester, psychologists wanted to see if a small shift in mindset could reduce teenagers’ social stress. They found that with a simple, half-hour training, they could help teens cope better, keep their bodies calmer and even do better in school. The other half of the students that participated in the control group also learned a growth mindset, but applied it to the physical environment in high school, not the social one. They took their mindset to achieve their own version of greatness in academics.
Stress can be a tough thing to deal with, especially with teenagers in the technology-laden modern world. Teenagers need to be reminded that there’s more to life than the latest party. Also, the fact that competing with others for academic (or social) greatness will not make or break you is important to remember. Tools and remedies need to be available that can help them when they can’t control their stress. With these supports, teenagers can learn to be calmer and happier individuals.