Being a teenager is very stressful, as many of you will also agree with me. There have been some recent studies that are kinda mind blowing as to just how stressful it can be. Busy schedules and expectations can all add up very fast for the adolescent mind and leave us with anxiety disorders and an emotional burnt out system. Yesterday kicked off the first day of the AP Exams, so I took my Psychology exam, my first of the three that I will do being crossed off the list early. This is an EXTREMELY stressful time for people in AP classes and seniors as they are looking forward to their graduations and all the emotional and planning that goes along with becoming a real person. Sometimes the stress of high school life can really get to you and most adults, no offense to them, don’t understand the stress that modern students are effected with and consider us to be simply over reacting and that we need to grow up. I highly disagree and so does a study recently done that shows that the average teen today has the same stress level as an asylum patient in the 1950’s. Scary right?
Teens are under so much stress and so many expectations that honestly this fact doesn’t surprise me at all. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t scare me a little bit. Even me, who is absolutely fascinated by psychological disorders, especially old fashioned creepy asylums, am pretty freaked out. What could all this stress be doing to my future physical and mental health? I often get stress colds when I am busy and very stressed out, in fact I have one as I am typing this post. Stress can be extremely detrimental to the physical health and can cause illness and stroke. It may also lead to a higher chance of mental disorders later in life, or even now.
To give any adults a more accurate representation of the stress levels of high school students, first let’s look at the busy schedules. So the average school day lasts from around 8-3 and that’s if you have the minimum requirement of classes for most schools. So that’s 7 hours a day times 5 days is 35 hours of school a week. Doesn’t seem like much right? Well lets add in the homework load, because that’s not all fun and games, that’s work and effort too, school but just at home with no instruction. The average high school student in America has an average of about 7 hours of homework a week that is assigned, for an AP student that adds about another 3-5 hours of homework depending on the class load and ect. So now we’re at a total of 42 hours of school for a non ap student and 45-50 hours of school for an AP student with only 6 classes. The average American adult works around 40 hours a week, maybe a little less, and they get paid for their efforts. Most teenagers than have to get jobs on top of that. The average teen works about 20 hours per week during the school year. So that brings us anywhere from 62-70 hours a week of business for the average teen. That isn’t adding sports or social events, or extra studying for tests and other situational events. There are 168 hours in a week. 168-62 = 106. After working and school we are left with 106 hours at the very most. Now let’s take away the recommended amount of sleep per night for a teenager, a little more than 9 hours. So 106-(9.25*7)=39.5. After all that time, we are left with almost 40 hours a week. After family dinners and time getting ready for school and places we are left with about 16 hours a week. 16 hours of free time. Teens are also expected to keep their rooms clean, read and be intelligent, spend time with friends and family, and figure out who they want to be when they get older. All in about 16 hours a week, which is a little over 2 hours per day at the very most amount for free time.
With all the stress and expectations put upon teenagers in today’s world, we really have no choice but to just deal with the stress. This is not an easy time to be an adolescent and live in this era, when everything is being expected of you and you have no break time to be healthy. So parents, next time you see your teen close to the edge or they come to you telling you they’re stressed, please don’t simply tell them to suck it up. In many cases teenagers are more stressed and busy than you adults are and we have less life experience, coping techniques, and strength to deal with it all. So give us a break, world. Let us live and enjoy the last few years of freedom without developing mental disorders because of stress.