In the 21st century, it is difficult to find a person who has not experienced the stress. In the rapidly changing informational environment, the number of stress causing factors and their negative impacts are increasing day by day. Therefore, it is important to know what the reasons for its occurrence are.
“Stress” firstly was described by the Canadian scientist Hans Selye, who defined it as General Adaptation Syndrome. According to Hans Selye, the body’s systems and functions of the organs weaken in this condition. In accordance with the modern definition, the "Stress" is the combination of those protective physiological reactions, which are generating in the body, in response to the harmful factors of the environment and to protect the body from the latter.
Please note that the stress not always has a negative effect on the body. The effect of short-term stress, which is due mainly to strong positive emotions, has a positive effect on the body and promotes its mobilization and activation. Prolonged stress (which continues for weeks, months or years) causes exhaustion of the vital forces and physiological dysfunction. In such cases, the organism cannot cope with the stress causing factors independently.
Why the Stress is Particularly Hazardous in Adolescence?
Negative stress factors are especially hazardous to those adolescent who are anyway highly sensitive and emotional in this age. In adolescence, stress often leads to a state such as depression, increased aggression, anxiety, nutrition and sleep disturbances, memory loss, etc. In addition, it is likely to have the most severe consequences - to become the basis for suicide.
Adolescence is the age, which covers the period between childhood and adulthood. Despite its different interpretation and reasoning, when this age begins and ends, adolescence coincides with the period when people experience rapid physical changes, and develop mentally and gradually reach full maturity age. The peculiarity of the period adolescence is also reflecting in its definitions: "transitional", "critical". During this period, the following changes take place: the rapid growth of the organism, physical and sexual growth, drastic changes in mentality and consciousness, relationships and the system of values. This age is characterized by emotional instability. Teenagers may have dramatic, affective reactions when they are criticized, given an advice, when their shortcomings are mentioned or their freedom is restricted. Sometimes the situation of exaltation is rapidly changing by depression and unsociability.
Stress causing factors in adolescence are mainly as follows
At a physical level, stress causes the body's rapid growth and sexual maturity, accompanied by both internal and abrupt changes in appearance.
In his/her teens, a human being pays special attention to his/her appearance, constantly compares himself/herself to others and his/her ideals. However, discovered difference is often a problem, which is hard to overcome and becomes a reason for anxiety and depression.
During a period of adolescence the reaction of child's parents, teachers and peers to the abovementioned changes, as well as their support and understanding of the problems are of great importance. Such an attitude helps adolescents easily adapt to any changes in their appearance and function of the body.
During a period of adolescence the changes takes place not only on the physical level, but also in a cognitive domain. The simple thinking skills shifts abstract and critical thinking. During this period teenager starts talking about himself/herself, the behavior of others, moral values and ethical norms. The establishment of a viable concept of personal ego is becoming very active, which means how people evaluate themselves, their chosen role and social status.
During this period the positive assessment from the adults, their positive feedback disclosure of adolescent merits are of particular importance. Frequent negative evaluation because of academic achievements, beliefs or behavior forms negative and/or uncertain self-identity of adolescent, which can become a cause of stress. In this period teenagers are dissatisfied with themselves, doubt their ability, feel themselves as unrealized and unsuccessful persons. In order to escape the problems, they may turn to alcohol or drugs...
The problem of communicating with parents often occurs in teens. Mainly conflicts are conditioned by the miscommunication, and different expectations and requirements of both sides (teacher and child). On the one hand, adolescents are trying to gain independence, object to control, strictness and instructiveness; they wish their needs to be recognized and their personality respected. On the other hand, it is difficult for parents to accept the autonomy aspirations of their children.
The teenagers may respond to the parents’ pressure by being rude, stubborn, and aggressive or any other negative form, especially when their interests and initiatives are neglected. It is common that in such situation the teenager, on the contrary, may become depressed and unsociable.
During this time, in order to avoid stressing the adolescent, the parents should create a warm atmosphere full of love, support and recognize his/her interests (and reach the consensus exchanging the ideas, if necessary). Parents also need to try to equip their child with skills necessary for independence.
Various studies show that a significant source of stress for children is a school. Here are the two intersected directions: the learning process and relationships:
- Learning-related factors include large amounts of homework that need a lot of time and effort to complete;
- Unsatisfactory academic achievements;
- Some punishments and prohibitions imposed by the teachers and parents;
- Assessments that are not based on positive feedback, and contributes to the formation of low self-esteem;
- Exam preparation process, especially when pupils are not confident in their own abilities;
- Lack of interest in the subject;
- Enforced learning;
- Also high expectations of the parents and teachers to a child.
When it comes to relationships, adolescence, as mentioned above, is distinguished by the aspiration to independence, self-affirmation, self-expression, etc. In this case, it is very important to create an environment of healthy, positive attitudes between a teacher and students, as well as between the students themselves.
Adolescence is the age when the process of assimilation of public experiences, values and personality formation is on. At that time, a person intensively is looking for the role models (parents, friends, cinema, sports or pop star, favorite teachers, etc.). He/she likes their beliefs and lifestyle, constantly compares him/her to them, and bases his/her self-assessment on this comparison.
Formation of the social stress in teens is closely linked exactly to the requirements of those various real or imagined social groups, including the role models who offer an adolescent to play many different roles. The adolescents should be able to combine these roles with each other, to identify them with themselves and to achieve personal harmony. At this time, the reason of stress is mostly a conflict between the roles, when the roles contradict one another, and adults face a difficult task, to accept or to reject them.
In addition to the above-mentioned factors, there are many reasons causing stress: family conflicts, the loss of a close relative/friend, constantly tensed environment, crisis, social and economic conditions, mental overload, etc. Additionally, as studies have shown, stress is often caused mostly caused not by the events, but their perceptions and understanding, person’s inclination to them. Therefore, it is important for the teenagers to be equipped with a positive perception of themselves and an environment, which makes it easier to see the causes of stress from a different angle, and this will help them to overcome a stress easily.