SOCIETY AND HAPPINESS
STRESS AND TEEN CULTURE
For us teens, stress has become intertwined with all aspects of our lives and can seem literally impossible to escape. The rate of anxiety has been steadily rising, soaring by 20% between 2007 and 2012. When asking ourselves why there has been such an alarming increase of anxiety, we must first look at our society. Aspects such a growing culture of achievement, uncertain times, and pressure from social media can all be to blame for the increase of stress we face in our lives.
Requirements for college admissions have only increased over the years and now take over much of our everyday life. Not only are we expected to excel academically, but we must also participate in numerous extracurricular activities. As a student myself, I can feel my stress steadily increasing as college application deadlines draw nearer. A yearly survey conducted by Higher Education Research asked students if they felt overwhelmed by the many expectations they faced. In 2016, 41% of students said "yes" compared with 28% in 2000 and 18% in 1985.
Beyond academic stressors, students must navigate through an increasingly tumultuous social climate. In the U.S., over the last 18 years, more people have been injured or lost their lives in school shootings than in the entire 20th century. Schools are now required to do lockdown drills to prepare students and faculties for possible shootings. This can make students feel unsafe in their own schools and increases anxiety.
The constant presence of social media also increases anxiety levels as we compare ourselves to others. Seeing a constant flow of people’s supposedly “perfect” lives can lead to us feeling that we aren’t good enough. Also, our self-esteem can be affected by the number of likes and comments we receive on posts. If fewer likes are received than usual, it can have detrimental effects on our self-confidence.
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?
- Make sure you set realistic expectations for yourself, and give yourself time away from academics to do things you like.
- Talk about your feelings and any fears you have with those you trust.
- Take breaks from social media if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed.
If you feel that you are experiencing serious symptoms of anxiety you can call these hotlines to receive help:
Panic Disorder Information Hotline: 1-800-273-PANIC
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI
Teen Line: 1-310-855-HOPE or 1-800-TLC-TEEN