In the 21st century, it is difficult to find a person who has not experienced stress. In the rapidly changing informational environment, the number of stress-causing factors and their negative impacts is 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. By the modern definition, “Stress” is the combination of those protective physiological reactions, which are generated in the body, in response to the harmful factors of the environment and to protect the body from the latter.
Please note that stress does not always hurt 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 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 that adolescents who are anyway highly sensitive and emotional at 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 interpretations and reasoning, when this age begins and ends, adolescence coincides with the period when people experience rapid physical changes, developmentally, and gradually reach full maturity age.
The peculiarity of the period of adolescence is also reflected in its definitions: “transitional”, and “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 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, and constantly compares himself/herself to others and his/her ideals. However, the 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 a 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 take place not only on the physical level but also in the cognitive domain. The simple thinking skills shift to 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 roles, and social status.
During this period the positive assessment from the adults, and their positive feedback disclosure of adolescent merits is of particular importance.
Frequent negative evaluation because of academic achievements, beliefs, or behavior forms negative and/or uncertain self-identity in adolescents, which can become a cause of stress.
In this period teenagers are dissatisfied with themselves, doubt their abilities, and feel like unrealized and unsuccessful persons.
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 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 personalities 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, aggressive, or any other negative form, especially when their interests and initiatives are neglected. It is common that in such a situation the teenager, on the contrary, may become depressed and unsociable.
During this time, to avoid stressing the adolescent, the parents should create a warm atmosphere full of love, and support, and recognize his/her interests (and reach a consensus by exchanging ideas, if necessary). Parents also need to try to equip their children with the skills necessary for independence.
Various studies show that a significant source of stress for children is in 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 contribute to the formation of low self-esteem;
- The exam preparation process, especially when pupils are not confident in their abilities;
- Lack of interest in the subject;
- Enforced learning;
- Also high expectations of the parents and teachers for 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 role models (parents, friends, cinema, sports or pop stars, 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.
The formation of 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 the to play many different roles.
Adolescents should be able to combine these roles, identify with themselves, and achieve personal harmony.
At this time, the reason for 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, a constantly tense environment, crisis, social and economic conditions, mental overload, etc.
Additionally, as studies have shown, stress is often caused mostly caused not by events, but by their perceptions and understanding of, a person’s inclination to them.
Therefore, teenagers need to be equipped with a positive perception of themselves and their environment, which makes it easier to see the causes of stress from a different angle, and this will help them to overcome stress easily.