It is no surprise that mental health issues have become far more prominent among adolescents in today’s unprecedented times. The lives of teenagers have increasingly become more stressful as a result of numerous pressures. Adolescents have to juggle many things at once, which can be challenging. Before the pandemic, mental health disorders were already a serious threat to adolescents. As of 2019, Pew Research Center has found that seven in ten teeneagers see both anxiety and depression as significant issues among their peers. They also found additional sources of pressure that many teenagers currently face, with academics at the top of the list. Other sources of stress come from the desire to look a certain way, “fit in” socially, and be involved in extracurricular activities. When a global pandemic is added to teenagers’ already chaotic lives, mental health issues are bound to increase. It is clear that striking a balance in all aspects of life is essential to maintaining health.
The COVID-19 outbreak has only added to the increasing cases of mental health issues in teenagers across the United States and the rest of the world. According to a FAIR Health report, “mental health claims essentially doubled as a percentage of all medical claims for individuals aged 13-18…”
Since the start of the pandemic, claims of anxiety disorder have increased by ninety-four percent, depressive disorder claims were up eighty-four percent, and adjustment disorder claims have increased ninety percent. Numerous studies have linked isolation to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, substance use, and other problems. These studies demonstrate the importance of finding ways to improve teenagers’ overall well-being.
Finding balance is an excellent way to improve mental health, as it allows individuals the time to do the things that make them happy. Balance is not the same for all individuals. Everyone has different priorities, obligations, relationships, interests, and activities. Finding balance allows individuals to live a more satisfying life, which reduces stress. There are always tasks that need to be completed, such as homework, assignments, sports games/practice, or other extracurriculars. However, a big part of finding balance is determining what needs to be done immediately and what can wait. Taking too much on at once can be overwhelming, leading to stress and feelings of burn-out. Good time management skills are essential for getting everything done while also carving out time to enjoy yourself and relax.
According to Healthline, there are specific things that individuals can do to reduce their stress and improve their mental well-being. Exercising, in any form, is an excellent way to relieve stress and improve sleep quality. Using candles and aromatherapy has also been proven to reduce stress. Journaling has also been found to reduce anxiety because expressing feelings in written form tends to be therapeutic. Listening to music or watching television are good ways to distract one’s mind and reduce stress, and experts point to various activities as a way to reduce stress and decrease feelings of burn-out, anxiety, and overwhelming to-do lists. Any activity that distracts the mind from the source of stress is beneficial and worth fitting into a schedule.
Sra. Gomez, the chair of the World Languages Department at Pine Crest School, said, “…if young people only focus on their intellectual development through their school work, for example, and do not actively and consciously make time to be outdoors and to smile and share with friends and family in a meaningful way, their success and sense of achievement will feel diminished no matter how hard they work.”
The regular stress that today’s teenagers face coupled with a global pandemic explains the increase in reports of mental health issues in recent months. However, it is important to must prioritize responsibilities and remember to take the time needed to relax and enjoy life. Balance does not mean picking one thing or the other; it means finding time for both.
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