Anxiety Creates Roadblocks

Anxiety seems to be running wild as an influenza; capturing the vision of students in high schools throughout the country.

Stress and anxiety go hand in hand. Sophomore Isabella Armenta has noticed the rapid spread of both as she witnesses students conquer schoolwork and assignments on a daily basis.

“I believe anxiety is looming over teens these days, the amount of pressure we are under from parents expectations, homework and part time jobs are huge factors,” Armenta said. “It is crazy how much more homework I have this year and it is more time consuming on the students part, the main point of any conversation during school is homework and how stressed everyone is. Overall high school consists of less time for friends and more time to study and learn and quite possibly stress.”

Jordan Leonard, a student at UW Tacoma studying psychology, can also decipher how much anxiety teens are under while in high school.

“Our world is fast paced and allows for no time to process. Teens are under pressure from many different angles: parents, teachers and future education. Parents are usually both working and have less time to spend devoting their time to their kids but that does not change what they expect,” Leonard said. “Teachers have certain requirements they have to meet by their students fulfilling educational goals. More so, college is more competitive than ever because we all know in this economy you must have a degree to succeed. Not to mention the peer pressure some teens may face. We live in a world full of dangerous temptations and teens are the most susceptible. Add all this to the hormones and a developing psyche and you get a day in the life of your average teenager.”

Leonard also experiences anxiety first-hand since she goes to college and holds two jobs.

“I took time off before returning to college so when I went back I didn’t have the option of not working while in school. I work two jobs and I go to school full-time. I am determined to get into the accelerated Master’s program that UW has to offer,” Leonard said. “I face stress and anxiety on a daily basis. I worry all the time about everything in my life. I want to succeed and I want to make my family and myself proud but I don’t want to be burnt out before I graduate. I have to remind myself that I need to balance my time and fit in not only the mandatory but allow for time to decompress. I would lose my mind if I did not.”

Hannah Heitman, junior, faces anxiety from finals and notices that school is the main source of anxiety, although some teens face issues at home as well.

“Anxiety seems to be very prominent in teens today; we are all trying to get ready for college and we want our grades to be high, especially in junior year. This year finishing up finals was very stressful, which lead to some anxiety. In math I have had to make sure I understand everything and make sure I am doing everything I need to do to get the grade,” Heitman said. “In junior high, I had time to mess around; it was enjoyable since I was not worrying about assignments. Most of the time stress comes from schoolwork, sometimes it can come from family complications but overall that is just a small note to the anxiety teens can uphold.”

Although teens are under enormous amounts of pressure, there are ways to handle anxiety and make it better.

“Trying to lessen anxiety can be difficult but students could find ways to balance time better, take a break and try to put priorities forward and anxiety behind us,” Armenta said.

Leonard notices the anxiety teens go through. A recommended way for students to lessen anxiety is to take a break and put your attention to something else as you come to terms with why you are stressed so that you can focus on things you need to get done.

“I think the toughest part of being a teenager is managing what is happening inside your own head and I think that experience is very similar no matter what generation you belong to. When you are a teen your thoughts and feelings are magnified and managing that while dealing with whatever else you have happening in your life is very tough. I commend teenagers that make it through without scars,” Leonard said. “Teens need to have outlets to handle their anxiety. Being involved in sports, hobbies or anything that allows them to focus on something that is outside of their daily stressors can truly mean the difference between managing effectively or not.”

As anxiety clouds the vision of many, staying positive is important. If it starts to alter perception and affect everyday life turn to a professional.

“We, as a society, need to focus on getting our teens the tools to manage their stress and anxiety before it gets to levels that are not manageable. The tough part is that there are so many variables. We can only teach so much without knowing specifics of what teens are dealing with. I wish that counseling was more of a routine thing for teens, just like their physicals,” Leonard said. “Counseling and therapy have such a stigma associated with them when the proven positive benefits could prevent much for many teens. I think it is incredibly brave to ask for help and advice in a world that does not seem to have time for such a thing.”