Working With Teens To See The Impact Of Healthy Stress On Their Mental Strengths


Usually when we hear the word “stress”, we automatically think of deadlines, anxiety, lack of sleep and a number of other unpleasant thoughts. While undoubtedly stress can cause negative emotions, it also has positive benefits like boosting your immune system, sharpening your memory, and helping you to accomplish daily challenges. The difficulty is being able to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy stress. Once you are able to recognize healthy stress, you can teach your family members how to harness that stress and use it to their advantage.

What is Healthy Stress?

Your body uses stress as an energy burst that allows you to accomplish the many tasks and challenges that you need to overcome on a daily basis. Healthy stress also helps to improve your memory, achieve your goals and allows you to finish tasks quickly and efficiently.

Researchers have also found that healthy stress strengthens your immune system by improving your heart’s functionality and also by protecting you from infection. The fight-or-flight response is also fueled by stress, this occurs when your brain discerns some kind of threat and responds by giving your body the chemicals cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These chemicals allow your body to function at its highest capacity, preparing you for whatever obstacle lies ahead.

What is Unhealthy Stress?

While stress in small doses can help you in a number of ways, when you have too much stress in your life it can quickly present itself in negative ways. Here are a few symptoms of having unhealthy stress in your life:

  • Anxious
  • Sad or depressed
  • Less social and active
  • Angry or irritable
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Tired
  • Muscle pain/tension
  • Overwhelmed

If you notice your teenager experiencing some of these symptoms, chances are they are undergoing too much stress and need help with managing it. When stress goes unmanaged it can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and even heart disease.

Harnessing Healthy Stress

You want your child to have all of the benefits that come from heathy stress, but it can be intimidating because you don’t want them dealing with too much stress either. Finding the right balance can be difficult, but not impossible. When you notice your teen getting stressed over their talents such as try-outs for various activities, sports, an art exhibit, a performance, etc. let them be stressed. This is a normal response and will likely attribute to them doing their very best. However if you find that your teenager is stressed from having too much going on, or from feeling like they are genuinely incapable of accomplishing a task, step in and help them. Encourage them to lighten their load so that rather than experiencing bad stress from having too much to do, they can experience healthy stress from wanting to do their very best in a few things.

Healthy stress will go away once your child’s game, try-out, test, date, etc, is over while unhealthy stress can permeate for weeks. You want your teenager to succeed in every aspect of their life and a big part of that is making sure they know how to handle stress.

From the mountains of Utah, Tyler Jacobson writes about his experiences as a father and husband. By sharing the struggles and solutions his family has faced, Tyler hopes to help other parents looking for a way to better their lives. You can connect with Tyler and read his helpful insights on: Twitter | LinkedIn

Tyler Jacobson
Tyler Jacobson is a freelance writer, with past experience in content writing and outreach for parent and teen advocate organizations. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin | Google +