Would you agree that it’s difficult to be a teenager today?
It’s such a crazy different world they live in. Historically teens have had academic and extracurricular loads pushing them beyond their limits but today they’re beyond harried with homework, work, sports, rehearsals, and desiring to connect socially. Let’s not forget the turbulent climate they are living in fueled by racism, sexism, and terrorism.
Hyper-connectedness exacerbates these life stressors.
But sadly, teens don’t have the same tolerance for stress as adults which might be why we are seeing an increase in health-related issues due to stress overload. TIME Magazine (Oct. 27, 2016) shared, “Anxiety and depression among high school students has been on the rise since 2012.” So, what’s a mom to do?
Lead by example.
Are you running on empty because of an overscheduled life? Do you seldom say “no?” Personally, I have struggled with stress and anxiety most of my life. When left unchecked stress can wreak havoc on your life leaving you depleted, depressed, and desperate for true connection with those that matter most. I am continually reevaluating and constantly making little adjustments to eliminate the unnecessary. What can you do to simplify your schedule and find room to breathe?
Understand your teen’s brain.
I sought to better understand the brain so that I could help a child struggling with anxiety, NLD, and ADD. I only wish I had this information sooner, as I might have been kinder and more compassionate with myself and my adult children.
Did you know that chronic stress can have devastating effects on teens such as anxiety, cancer, depression, inability to sleep, obesity, and other health issues? A study by the AMA found that stress is a factor in 75 percent of all illnesses and diseases that people suffer from today. Dr. Jeramy Clark and Jerusha Clark, in their amazing book, Your Teenager is not Crazy, puts it best.
Teenagers, who lack the prefrontal cortex capacities for long-term planning and analysis, need the help of adults, who can use their adult brains, to ruthlessly eliminate hurry, rightly order schedules, and accept limits. Teens will not do this on their own. You can act as a surrogate prefrontal cortex when it comes to stress and making decisions – some of which may be unpopular with your adolescent – to live wisely, with less stress.
As believers, we can take great comfort from Matthew 11:28-30, especially in the Message translation:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out … Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
God provides His remedy for stress through embracing real rest and the unforced rhythms of grace.
What would it look like for you to model His rest, His rhythms, and His grace as you help your teen cope with the stressors that mark their life?