Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge, which could be anything from outright physical danger to asking someone for a date or trying out for a sports team.

Let’s face it- we all get stressed from time to time. But not all stress is bad. Stress is a perfectly normal reaction to feeling pressure. Stress helps you to deal with life’s challenges, to give your best performance, and to meet a tough situation with focus. The body’s stress response is important and necessary.

Stress in teens is an important, yet commonly overlooked, health issue. Between puberty, changing relationships with peers and the demands of school and families, the teen years can be notorious for rapid changes that cause stress. However, the way in which you cope with this stress can have significant short and long-term consequences on their physical and emotional health.


Common Sources Of Stress

• School pressure and career decisions

• After-school or summer jobs

• Dating and friendships

• Death of a loved one

• Pressure to wear certain types of clothing, jewelry, or hairstyles

• Pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol, or sex

• Changes in your body and/or pressure to be a particular size or body shape. With girls, the focusis often weight. With boys, it is usually a certain muscular or athletic physique.

• Dealing with the physical and cognitive changes of puberty  

• Family conflicts and financial problems

• Being bullied or exposed to violence or sexual harassment

•Busy schedules – juggling school, sports, after-school activities, social life, and family obligations

#DYK (Did You Know?) – Howard County Facts

Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, are common responses to chronic or prolonged periods of stress.

Nationally, 1 in 5 children between the ages of 13 and 18 are diagnosed with a mental health illness. (source: NIMH, 2016)

In Howard County, 11% of parents said that their child has either been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. (source: HC Health Assessment 2016)

18.2% of Howard County Middle School students reported feeling sad or hopeless within a year, with 15.7% seriously considering a suicide attempt. (source: The 2014 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey)

Nearly 25% of high school students in thecounty reported feeling sad or hopeless throughout one year, while 13.5% of females and 9.4% of males made plans to attempt suicide. (source: The 2014 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey)

Signs You May Be Stressed

•Increased headache, stomachache, muscle pain, tiredness

• Shutting down and withdrawing from people and activities

• Increased anger or irritability; i.e., lashing out at people and situations

• Crying more often and appearing teary-eyed

• Feelings of hopelessness

Chronic anxiety and nervousness

• Changes in sleeping and eating habits, i.e., insomnia or being “too busy” to eat

• Difficulty concentrating

 Stress Management Skills

• Talk about problems with others

• Take deep breaths, accompanied by thinking or saying aloud, “I can handle this.”

• Perform progressive muscle relaxation, which involves repeatedly tensing and relaxing large muscles of the body

• Set small goals and break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks

• Exercise and eat regular meals

• Avoid the use of  illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco

• Get proper sleep

• Break the habit of relying on caffeine or energy drinks to get through the day

• Visualize and practice feared situations

• Focus on what you can control (your reactions, your actions) and let go of what you cannot (other people’s opinions and expectations)

• Lower unrealistic expectations

• Schedule breaks and enjoyable activities

• Accept yourself as you are; identify your unique strengths and build on them

(SOURCE: Dyl, J. Helping teens cope with stress. Lifespan. Retrieved from


Many mental health disorders are treatable, but the first step to treatment is to talk with a healthcare provider to get an evaluation.

Services provided depend on the needs and choices of the youth and his or her family, and the diagnosis and severity of the problem.

Services may include:

• Psychotherapy with an evidence-based practice

Peer mentoring

Care coordination

• Medication

• Combination of all approaches.

In addition to getting the right treatment, leading a healthy lifestyle can play a role in managing symptoms of depression or anxiety.


Symptoms can be managed by:

• Maintaining a healthy diet

• Engaging in physical activity for at least 60 minutes each day

• Getting adequate sleep at night based on age

• Practicing mindfulness techniques.

Stress is the biggest weight you can’t see. That’s why it can be hard to tell just how stressed you are until it’s too late. Don’t get to “too late.” 

Healthy Minds
Being healthy means dealing with the changes in your body – and your mind. Relationships, body image, families, emotions can all lead to stress in your life. Learn how to positively and effectively cope with these common stressors.

Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line trains volunteers to support people in crisis.

Text: 741-741

Grassroots Crisis Intervention (Crisis/Suicide/Runaway/Shelter)
Grassroots operates a 24-hour crisis intervention and supportive counseling hotline. Callers may remain anonymous and may call for a variety of reasons including suicide, family and relationship problems, shelter needs, violent or threatening domestic situations, loneliness or depression, and chemical dependency issues, among others. The Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

6700 Freetown Road Columbia MD, 21044

A Personal Guide for Managing Stress
An article written specifically for young people from 12 to 18 years of age to learn about stress and how to manage it.

Creating your Personal Stress Management Plan
Details a 10-point plan on how to manage stress as a teen.