Teen Burnout

2di5oKS.jpgToday, more than at any other time, teens are involved in multiple activities from sports, to part-time jobs, to hanging out with friends.  We think of youth as having an unlimited amount of energy . . . but can they do it all? While teens are trying to gear up for their post high school plans, they unfortunately lack a skill they desperately need -- knowing how to relax.

Teens with too much to do are at risk of burning out. The stress that they experience from over-scheduling can take energy away from their need to focus and make good choices.

Some teens can’t say “no” and become candidates for burnout.  These scenarios may actually be learned from their over-committed parents who have passed this down to their kids without even realizing it.  Concerned parents want to know how to help their stressed-out, over-scheduled, over-worked, too-active teens.  Remember that kids learn by example; if you don’t ease off of your over-scheduled, over-committed life, then your kids won’t understand why they should.

WebMD expresses that teens may not even notice when they are stressed out and overwhelmed. When pushed beyond their limits, teens can lose perspective on their own stress and activity level.  The following is a list of some warning signs of too much stress in your teen:

  • Dropping grades
  • Stomachaches, headaches, neck and/or back pain
  • Change in or trouble with sleeping
  • Changes in eating habits (i.e. over or under eating)
  • Crankiness or mood shifts
  • Problems with friends /relationships
  • Increased risk-taking behaviors

Stress, lack of sleep, and constant emotional and physical overexertion can wear on teens, just like it does on adults.  Stress can also lead to unhealthy habits like eating junk food, watching too much television, spending too much time on phones, internet, etc., and playing video games instead of exercising; all of which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Teens of today’s generation don’t know how to slow down, turn off, calm down and figure out what’s important to them.  Focus on the Family (.com) gives some suggestions on how this can be helped. 

1.  Plan a “Stress Release Weekend”- no schedule, no agenda; in a relaxing place with simple meals.  The goal is to “detox” from the pressures of life.

2.  Do a “too busy” checkup by listing all of the activities you are committed to and divide them into 3 groups [essential, important, pleasurable]. Then, beside each activity, write down something you must say “no” to in order to make that item a priority.  Determine if you’re doing too much; adjust accordingly.

3.  Schedule a prayerful “Time (or Day, if possible) Alone With God” in a quiet secluded place.

Other suggestions for parents include:

  • Have your teen choose between activities, helping them learn to prioritize, which is an important life skill.
  • If your teen is involved in sports, try to limit them to one per season; do the same with other commitments they may have.
  • Try to have at least one day a week where there are no scheduled activities; encourage your teen to find healthy ways to relax (music, going for a walk, etc). Movement helps get their brains ready to study and lowers their stress rate.
  • Don’t “get on” your teens to be productive the minute they walk in the door; this may add unnecessary stress to their lives, instead give them relaxation time and model that skill.
  • Carve out time during your day to unwind, just like you’d make the time for meals; encourage your teen to do the same.
  • Encourage your teen to get between 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep a night; sleep deprivation can lead to a number of medical and learning issues.

 

Also:  Check for the resources When I Relax I Feel Guilty, Spend a Day in Prayer, or Managing Stress for Teens: Christian Management (Volume 1) in a Christian Bookstore or at christianbook.com

Two great websites are: www.forchristianteens.com; and http://christianteens.about.com. Search the web for more ideas about teens and stress.