How Teens Cope With Stress

Being a​ teenager can involve a​ lot of​ juggling. Trying to​ manage demands at​ school,​ home and from friends can seem stressful-even overwhelming at​ times.

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

The recent winners of​ the​ Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition,​ sponsored by the​ Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the​ College Board,​ explored both positive and negative ways of​ responding to​ stress. Natalia Nazarewicz of​ Oak Ridge,​ Tenn.,​ and Aman Prasad of​ Pocatello,​ Idaho,​ conducted the​ two studies.

Nazarewicz surveyed more than 1,​000 high school students in​ the​ Oak Ridge area on​ the​ practice of​ deliberate self-harm,​ such as​ cutting or​ burning their skin. She found that 26 percent of​ the​ students reported they had deliberately hurt themselves at​ least once. the​ survey showed the​ selfharm was often a​ response to​ stress and that twice as​ many girls as​ boys had resorted to​ such actions.

"I talked with some high-school guidance counselors and student advisors after completing my study 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 may help teens mitigate the​ negative effects of​ minor mood disorders. He surveyed 800 ninth and tenthgrade students from three schools about how much physical activity they engaged in​ each week and measured the​ students' mood by asking each person 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.

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