The stress of high school

Freshman year health class taught us that we must learn to balance our physical, mental and social health, also known as the health triangle. However, the "health shape" more closely resembles a hexagon.

Teens suffering from depression or anxiety experience a decrease in self esteem, a lack of interest in once-enjoyed activities, and a change in behavior. These symptoms result from the combination of stressors and extreme pressure in everyday life and ultimately affect one’s routine lifestyle.

It is no secret that teenagers have stress, often a lot of stress. In order to meet the expectations of a “well- rounded” student, they are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities outside of school, including sports, jobs, clubs, etc., while also maintaining ideal grades and active social lives.

Due to the academic expectations and social pressures set by parents, teachers and peers, a teen’s mental health is in danger. When a teen’s identity is measured by accomplishments and achievements (“everyone gets a trophy”), not their level of empathy, kindness or courage, teens can see themselves as less than if they fail to meet the high expectations of their peers, college admission deans, parents and teachers.

The ability to exceed and meet the expectations of a stereotypical, “well- rounded” student who fulfills all responsibilities to exacting standards is almost impossible for any teen, causing a teen to move the attention needed on maintaining physical and mental health to the bottom of their list of priorities.

Success, to the modern adolescent, requires all out effort on all endeavors. And, if parents and teachers haven’t taught teens to cope with setback and failure, then students are at increased risk of depression and anxiety. Often stress, anxiety and depression will lead to delinquent behavior: drug use, lying, cheating, and stealing.

A teen dealing with depression and anxiety will wake up for school everyday feeling exhausted regardless of the amount of sleep they received. The exhausted teen withstands an eight-hour school day, mentally preparing for the hours of homework in the evening to follow, often risking sleep to get things done, only adding to the exhaustion.

There is always going to be some kind of homework you have to finish outside of class and completing hours of homework is challenging when you have the closing shift at your job or your practice finishes late.

In addition to extracurricular activities, establishing a social identity is a large part of growing up and maturing.

Our generation is very involved in social media; it’s likely that an atmosphere of competition and jealousy is created through apps like Twitter or Instagram. Admiration is healthy, but enough admiring can have you questioning your own self worth.

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