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How Teens Cope With Stress

Being a teenager is not easy. Sometimes it involves a lot of juggling. Trying to manage demands at school, home and from friends can be very stressful and even overwhelming sometimes.  

To help teens how to handle stress and stay focused, parents should encourage their teens to budget their time, eat and sleep well, exercise, and ask for help every time they require it. 

The winners of the Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the College Board, investigated both positive and negative ways of responding to stress.  Natalia Nazarewicz of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Aman Prasad of Pocatello, Idaho, performed both studies.  This investigation was conducted as a way to find out how teens cope with stress.  The results were very surprising. 

Nazarewicz surveyed more than one thousand high school students in the Oak Ridge area on the practice of deliberate self-harm, like cutting or burning their skin.  She discovered that twenty six percent of the students reported they had deliberately hurt themselves as a minimum once.  The survey showed that self-harm was regularly a response to teen stress and that twice as many girls as boys had resorted to such actions.  "I talked with several high-school guidance counselors and student advisors after my research was completed and they were shocked by the scope of the problem," said Nazarewicz. 

For his project, Prasad conducted a survey that he said suggests that physical activity might help teens alleviate the negative causes of minor mood disorders.  He surveyed 800 ninth and tenth grade students from three different schools about how much physical activity they engaged in every week and measured the students' mood by asking each one of them to assess how optimistic and how aggressive he or she felt.   

On average, he found that students who exercised at a rate of three or more days a week reported being in a better mood than students who did not exercise.  Therefore, this investigation is a good indication which may reveal that exercising reduces stress on teens.