Being a teenager is certainly an overwhelming stage of life. There’s many pressures we have to deal with, both internal and external. Every decision and effort we make each day can determine the path to the rest of our lives, thus the immense amount of pressure to act, speak, and be perceived a certain way. On the other hand, if we’re not worried about our futures and don’t try to achieve anything, it’s almost certain that the rest of our lives will be much more difficult. We’re told by our authority figures to get good grades, do sports and extracurriculars, stay out of trouble, get jobs, etc. Often times, we’re told by others to do quite the opposite. This time period is what forms who we’ll be for the rest of our lives, and the time where everything is blown way out of proportion by the hormones being produced. Because of this, overthinking and anxiety is a huge problem among teens. It’s estimated that around 31% of all teens have some kind of anxiety disorder, and many are dismissed and even go untreated. We can overthink everything: relationships, friendships, grades, etc. All this thinking and constantly overanalyzing everything eventually can affect relationships, causing stress or overwhelm on others, or just creating something horrible out of nothing at all. This creates a general unstable foundation for life, causing overall unsteadiness and anxiety throughout a day-to-day basis.
The time period of being ages 13-18 is often considered an in-between phase. Teenagers are no longer children and are expected to act mature and responsible, but we are also not yet adults and are still treated by some as kids. This can be very confusing because it’s hard to know what our responsibilities as human beings are, and how to discover those boundaries. The societal expectations pushed upon us often clash with one another, and it feels like we just don’t know how to act. Slowly growing out of being a kid can be a let down; being forced to see the aspects of the world that were hidden from us for so long, and being expected to deal with it and be mature. It often feels like everything is just coming at us too fast, and it can be very hard to process.
Healthy coping mechanisms are not often taught for these issues, leaving teens resorting to unhealthy ones such as substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, ignoring our issues, isolating, and more. It’s estimated that around one-third of teenagers have self-harmed, and around 3% of teens have an eating disorder. Additionally, around 62% of teens have abused alcohol, and 50% have abused drugs at least once. Clearly, unhealthy coping mechanisms and habits are a prevalent issue in teens, and we may even be more subjective to developing these habits because our brains are still growing and our hormones are unbalanced and extreme. What we are exposed to and taught during this time will widely affect the rest of our lives and mental health. This is why healthy ways to cope with issues and mental illness as teens should be more widely taught, instead of ignored or even discouraged.
Though being a teenager will be a difficult stage no matter what, it doesn’t have to be deadly, and it doesn’t have to negatively affect one’s life. Self-reflection, breathing exercises, and meditation can help with calmer disposition, more thought-out decision making, and less overthinking. Learning many coping mechanisms such as these can help with various issues and habits. Through talking to trusted friends or adults, getting help when needed, journaling, and simply making time for ourselves, enjoying each period of life can be much easier.