17 Jun What are the Pressures of a Typical Teen Life?
Obstacles litter your path every day, and I’m not talking about inconsiderate people chucking crisp packets and pop bottles on the floor. The obstacles I’m talking about are life hurdles. They cause setbacks, create problems and present new questions to think about. They are a pain in the backside and they add pressure that you can do without!
Boom! That’s life, right there!
You’re the only one that has problems
Hmm … you might think that, but everyone has challenges to overcome and everyone feels pressure. If you find someone who says not, I promise you, they are lying and just trying to save face!
Feeling pressure as a teenager can be overwhelming because you are encountering many problems for the first time. This adds fear and uncertainty because the future is unknown. To make matters worse, as a teenager growing up in the 2020s, you have the online world and uber-connectedness, which compounds even more pressure onto the everyday pressures from teachers, parents, friends, siblings and employers! I praise your generation, honestly. Mobile phones weren’t a commodity when I was a wee lass!
Every teen has pressure in their life. Past experiences, future fears, aspirations and how you choose to handle a situation will determine the extent of the pressure you feel. The Back on Track Teens blog series and podcast will introduce you to proven techniques that will help you cope with pressure and life to the absolute max!
In fact, you are probably doing far better than you think you are already so give yourself some credit.
Standing up in front of everyone at school!
Does the thought of this freak you out?
You’re sitting in class, feeling somewhat uncomfortable. One of your legs is uncontrollably juddering, you feel hot and sweaty and your tummy is churning! You are supposed to be listening to your fellow students as they each present their viewpoint on a question asked by the teacher last week, but all you can think of is ways that your own presentation could go wrong.
• What if you forget your words?
• What if you start to stammer?
• What if the class bully picks up on something and makes your life hell on the way home?
This might not be the exact situation that gives you the heebie-jeebies, but it’s a pressure that many teenagers have sleepless nights over!
Typical teenage problems lie around body image and identity. It’s a period in life where you are experiencing massive body and emotional changes. You will be trying to find yourself and some situations may make you feel vulnerable. You might also compare yourself to others, but just know that there’s no need for you to do this.
Think carefully. When was the last time something got on top of you? It might have been the classroom presentation mentioned above, maybe an exam, a job interview, a sports competition, or a massive bust up with your parents, sibling or a friend (or a not-so-nice-non-friend at school).
How did this situation or person make you feel? It helps to make notes about this sort of situation, the triggers, the emotions and how you overcame them. Keep a journal to write in at the end of each day.
Pay attention to how you feel
It’s natural to feel something. Feeling nothing doesn’t make you the cool kid. Quite the opposite. Feeling intense negative reactions and surviving them helps you to learn valuable lessons, gain new skills and develop the ability to adapt. Fist bump to you! But what can you expect to feel when pressure raises its head? (BTW, it’s not always an ugly head!)
When stuff gets on top of you, you can feel:
Negative emotions can cause you to make snap decisions or take hasty action. This happens because you haven’t taken time to think about the situation before responding, and chances are, it might not be the right response. But that’s OK. How you react to obstacles and pressure helps you to learn better coping techniques. It helps you to become more confident, tougher and happier. This is where the magic lies.
Butterflies, breakouts and bad moods
Feeling pressure can manifest as anything from belly butterflies to feeling absolutely paralysed by your thoughts. Have you ever felt as though your head is pounding, your stomach is churning and you can’t get to sleep at night?
This is your sign.
Have you ever felt that your heart is racing? A sudden hot flush takes over you? Do you ever want to cry or shout or lock yourself in your bedroom so that everything will disappear?
This is normal, but remember that these signs are short-term responses to pressure. Scientifically this is called the fight-or-flight response.
Stuff happens to your body and in your mind when you’re fearful. You believe that whatever is happening is out of your control and as a consequence your body is preparing to run away or stand tall and raise fists. It’s the same for pressure. Standing up to pressure and dealing with the situation is where you want to be. Running away is not the solution. Neither is a fistfight in most situations.
Get off the pressure train
The feeling of being under constant pressure can build up to the point that you feel like a bottle of pop ready to burst. But let’s not get to burst point. What you don’t want is to feel the effects of long-term pressure.
• High anxiety
• Low self-esteem
• Suicidal thoughts
There are some physical changes to be aware of too that can appear due to the pressures of a typical teen life.
• Continuous and severe breakouts
• Dark circles under your eyes
• Weight gain
• Weight loss
• Blood pressure fluctuations
• Shaking limbs
• Headaches or migraines
• Stomach upsets, pains and bloating
These physical ailments are also linked to your general wellbeing, diet and exercise. When you are worried, stressed or angry (to name but a few) it can affect your appetite. Bad food and drink choices will compound the effects of feeling pressure.
Remember, you can handle life and you can handle it well.
Coping with teen pressures – you’ve got this!
When you feel under pressure, take a deep breath and take your time to consider the situation. Is it the end of the world? Probably not, so work out how best to react by weighing up a few options.
• What’s the worst that could happen?
• What’s the best that could happen?
Find a balance that’s right because overthinking situations can cause you to make no decision at all!
It helps if you can speak to someone when feeling under pressure. It’s not good to hold worries and negative emotions inside, so try to keep kind, supportive and motivational people around you. They will help.
KEEP A JOURNAL. Just to warn you that I bang on about this a lot, but please do keep one. They are super useful to make notes about how you feel and in particular how you overcome obstacles. Your notes will help you to become aware of the positives that work for you and give you time to reflect and work out what you need to do.
Building your armour to deal with the pressures of a typical teen life
Recognise the signs that indicate you are feeling pressure. This is why I will encourage you to note memories, motivations and ideas as you read this blog series alongside situations and thoughts that cause you to have negative and positive responses.
Ultimately, there’s this neat little skill called RESILIENCE. It’s a key factor that will help you to approach and handle obstacles and unexpected situations in your stride and it’s a brilliant tool to pick up as a teenager.
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” Aristotle
Choose the life you want to lead
Yes, you will encounter pressures, there are typical of a teen life – anyone’s life for that matter, but you can gather the tools to help you manage stress easily and move on quickly.
The blog series is jam-packed with tips, exercises and positive mindset methods to set you up for an amazing life ahead.
Please do connect with the Back on Track community to share your thoughts and ask any questions, that’s where we’re all here. You can learn more about the pressures of a typical teen life and contribute your successes.
Stay strong, stay positive and stay safe.