Something we all have in common is stress. Everyone feels and experiences stress during their life. Some stress is good for us, it helps us learn and try new things. Some stress is harmful, like traumatic experiences or long-term pressures. What differs between person to person is how we deal with it. Managing our stress is learned and some strategies are better than others. This is also true for the youth in our community.
Many think that kids do not have much to worry about and stress is not an issue. However, a 2018 survey found that 86% teens felt stressed about national issues like gun violence[i]. Our youth are facing many concerns that may cause stress. Examples include pressures on appearance, financial problems, and family discord. Additionally, with COVID-19 youth are feeling stress from isolation and worries about health. A common way people try to reduce stress is by using alcohol and other drugs and our youth are watching and learning.
There is a strong connection between stress and substance use. Research shows that stress can be a strong predictor of substance misuse and for people in recovery a predictor of relapse[ii]. Teaching our youth how to manage stress in healthy ways is important. It can help decrease the chance of relying on substances for stress relief, which could potentially lead to misuse or addiction. We know there are many factors that contribute to substance use and this is just one piece of the puzzle when supporting kids to lead healthy lives.
There are many ways to reduce stress. Encouraging youth to try different stress reduction methods to find what works best for them is ideal, as it’s different for everyone. Here are a few stress management strategies that many folks find helpful[iii]:
Getting enough sleep
Sometimes people need to talk about what is stressing them out. To explore different ideas for reducing stress try visiting headspace.com or calm.com as a starting point, both are free and can also be downloaded as apps. You can also visit our Facebook page for more information.