YORK, Pa., Nov. 22, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today's teens feel stressed out. From school to relationships to college and beyond, high school students deal with pressure from a variety of sources. StageofLife.com, a teen blogging and writing resource, welcomed 2,733 students to its monthly blogging contest for teens to answer the prompt, "What stresses you out?"
Teens shared personal experiences ranging from a sibling's drug addiction to the day-to-day stress of dealing with homework. From the collection of these student essays, six major themes emerged on teen stress:
1. School: Students talked candidly about the pressures from homework, grades and school transitions. Teen blogger, laura310, stated, "School is the thing that most high school students dread...There's so much homework, projects, and tests due in a short amount of time and sometimes it feels like it's the end of the world."
2. College: Many students worry about college. One teen writer, coffeeinthebin, talked about making the right choices for getting into college, "Every choice I make has to be thought through...I need to think about the consequences. Getting high, or drunk some night like half the population of my school do, won't help me. I'll be tired and will fail a test the next day."
3. Romantic Relationships: Teen relationships can be a perfect recipe for stress. Youthful expectations. Untested emotional boundaries. Hormones. One student shared that this stress doesn't come from a crush on Justin Bieber, but the emotional commitment given to "people, places, activities, and ideas...which is why it stresses me out constantly!"
4. Friends and Family: Like romance, this category heavily involves interpersonal relationships, a natural cause of stress. One high school blogger pointedly observed, "Friendship stresses me out to the point that I want to rip out my hair and scream on the top of Mt. Everest. Because reality is, friendship isn't just hard. It's downright difficult."
On the family side, an essay finalist in the teen writing contest talked about her stress of losing a loved one, in this case her father, "In order to deal with the pain of his passing I turn to God and pray to him to relieve me suffering. Sometimes it works yet other times the pain remains. (The) stress of losing a loved one is like feeling the weight of the world crushing down on your shoulders and no matter what you do the weight never goes away."
5. Social Expectations/Society: People of any age, especially teens, can often become overwhelmed by what is often "expected" of them. Several writers described frustrations with "what you should look like, how you act, how much money you should make to be successful."
6. The Future: As if school, college, love, family, friends, and society weren't enough, there was a consensus amongst many of the teens that "the future" stresses them out. One of Stage of Life's high school editors, Amanda, a junior at the Keystone National High School, summed up what many of the teens expressed, "Facing the unknown is a scary thing, and many teens don't have much experience outside of high school, their peer-to-peer social life, and bucket-loads of extracurriculars. When the future is suddenly thrown at us, we're lifted completely out of our environment, and therefore out of our mental comfort zone."
In fact, it was an essay about this stress category that propelled writing contest winner, Lily Nguyen, to stand out from the group of eleven finalists. Her essay, "What Stresses Me Out: the Future", addressed her worries about the future and living up to parental expectations,
"(My mother) and my father had escaped Vietnam during the war, hoping for a better life. So I can see why they have a 'the sky is the limit' attitude on everything I do. I'm also not saying that it's a bad thing. But on a journey to find a profession that both fills my personal needs and my parent's expectations is where I find most of my stress."
So what can students do about stress? How can they find positive coping mechanisms for it?
Humera Proctor, eLearning Instructional Designer for LearntobeHealthy.org, the online extension of the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center in York, PA, commented, "Writing/blogging is a great way to reduce stress for teens. It gives them a chance to describe what is overwhelming. And by reading it, they can reflect on how they are feeling and think of ways to solve their problem."
Because chronic stress can lead to long-term health issues, which are the leading cause of death in the U.S., Proctor went on to encourage teens to identify what is causing them stress so they can avoid it (if possible), prioritize their work, get enough sleep, find time to relax, be optimistic while setting realistic goals, and engage in positive coping mechanisms, like writing.
Rebecca Thiegs, M. Ed., Education Consultant for StageofLife.com and current high school Language Arts teacher at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, PA, expanded on Proctor's comments,
"We see examples of negative coping mechanisms everyday in the stories we examine in the classroom. For instance, look at Holden Caulfield or Hamlet. Both of these literary characters deal with stress in very destructive manners. At StageofLife.com, we're working to give students a positive outlet, each and every day, to release stress through that process of writing and blogging."
StageofLife.com consolidated many of the "What Stresses You Out?" teen essays on a summary page for review at http://www.stageoflife.com/Student_Stress.aspx along with a link to an informational video about teen stress from LearntobeHealthy.org.
The current writing contest for high school students asks the question, "What are you thankful for?" National sponsor, KodakGallery.com, is providing the monthly prize and StageofLife.com is offering up SWAG and Featured Blogger status on the site to the next student essay winner.
About Stage of Life™: StageofLife.com is a free, non-partisan grassroots project hosting blogs, information and resources for teens, Millennials/Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations. Its specialized content includes lesson plan ideas and writing prompts for Language Arts teachers, monthly writing contests for high school students and college students, blogging resources, a platform for writers and bloggers to promote their work and much more, including My Life Rewards, an area dedicated to providing relevant coupons and discounts exclusively geared towards each stage of life.
About LearntobeHealthy.org: LearntobeHealthy.org is an online health education center that has been designed to help educators, teachers, parents, families and the community communicate physical and mental health science education concepts to students K-12 through health educational resources such as games, activities, and lesson plans. LearntobeHealthy.org's web-based kits meet many National and State Health, Science and Technology Education Standards and make health education fun. It is a part of the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to keeping people WELL!
If you'd like more information about StageofLife.com or an interview with CEO/Founder, Eric Thiegs, please us the Contact Us form on the website or call 717-650-0699.