The teen years might seem like an easy gig – school, sport, maybe a part-time job, parties, friends and even Schoolies – but a study released by Mission Australia this week shows Australia’s young people are highly concerned about coping with stress.
The study, which surveyed 13,600 Aussie teens between 15-19, revealed over 80% of our youth felt that achieving career success and being financially independent were important, ranking education and hard work as key to influencing future career opportunities. However only 60% believed they would be able to achieve their aspirations, with almost half of the respondents saying where they lived would affect their career opportunities.
While the summer holidays provide a break from the demands of school, exams, deadlines and even social pressure, Year 12 results and uni offer rounds in the coming weeks can ramp up the stress levels. And even the break in routine, with late nights out or online, can increase stress. Add in a summer job and our teens can feel stressed out even while on holidays.
Our tips for helping your teen cope?
- Be aware of potential signs of stress – from difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and physical signs of anxiety to anger, frustration, moodiness or withdrawing socially.
- Maintain routine even on the school holidays – late nights, earlier starts, more screen time, disrupted eating schedules all place additional stress on the body. Try to keep a level of consistency – and good luck enforcing this with your teen!
- Encourage regular exercise – it’s great for the endorphins, burning off excess energy and we really have no excuse not to indulge in some outdoor fun over summer. Sunlight has been shown to reduce perceived levels of stress and depression, so get out there.
- Listen. Let your teen know that you are there to listen and help, without judgement. Create informal opportunities to talk – a walk on the beach or around the block after dinner, driving in the car, watching TV.
- Balance social time with ‘me’ time. Check out Council’s school holiday programs for awesome free and low-cost activities, head to the movies, try something new – surf school, circus, art class, drama. School holidays are a great time to explore new interests. Just don’t over-schedule, and allow time for solo pursuits – music, reading, writing and drawing all allow creative expression while providing much-needed time out.