“I have a 4.4 GPA. I study during lunch, I’m on the varsity volleyball team, attend youth group weekly and just went on a mission trip with my church; but my dad looks at me and frowns, like I’m lazy and goofing off when I take thirty minutes to video chat with my friends. He doesn’t understand that I’m not like him, and I have a life and I need a break,” exclaimed sixteen year-old Karissa. “The stress is upsetting my stomach, today I missed school. Last week I missed three days with a killer cold.”
A little stress can actually be good for students, but when they are overwhelmed, confused, anxious and freaking out, it turns toxic and can be dangerous. Learning skills to keep stress in check will produce many benefits. Students will perform better with academics, athletics and in the arts if they have a calm, clear, rested mind. Teenagers need nine to eleven hours of sleep each night, but many are trying to get by on five or six.
I deal with stressed teens daily in my coaching practice. I try to warn them of the dangers of chronic stress and coach them about the benefits of learning skills to reduce toxic stress. I encourage teens and their parents, to make changes in their schedule, lifestyle, thinking and family culture:
Toxic stress makes colds worse.
A study done by Carnegie Mellon University and reported in the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings, warns that chronic stress causes more inflammation and reduces immunity making colds worse and last longer. Chronic stress causes the body to over produce cortisol, which weakens the body’s immune system. During the current cold and flu season, we need to help our students get plenty of rest even if it means sleeping in until eleven on a Saturday. Most teens are sleep-deprived and haven’t yet developed the skills to keep their stress in check. Many are sinking under the burden and pressure of their schedule. They have not yet developed a strong, internal emotional frame to handle the heavy adult-like burdens of their homework, sports, dance, work, friends, family challenges, finances and school.
For more solutions on reducing student stress and for students to assess their level of stress, check out my site www.stress-0-meter.com
For more on the study on stress and colds: