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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Daily Dose

How should parents help teens manage stress?

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Teens are stressed, and during the school year, they are even more stressed than adults. That’s the finding of a new American Psychological Association survey of nearly 2,000 adults and more than 1,000 teens. As a parent of three teenagers I’m not surprised to hear the news.

Teens reported that their stress level during the school year — which they ranked as 5.8, on average, with 10 being the worst — was beyond what they perceived to be a healthy range. (Adults ranked their stress level at 5.1.)

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Nearly one in three teens reported feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or sad as a result of stress. More than one-third of teens felt tired from stress, and some frequently skipped meals because they were too anxious to eat.

Perhaps most troubling: Nearly half of stressed teens know they’re not doing enough to manage their stress, but they’re not really sure what to do to bring some relief. They turn to video games or social media to chill out instead of shooting hoops, getting some exercise, or talking it through with their parents or friends.

“One of the things parents can do is recognize that stress can be a chronic problem” that needs to be discussed with teens, said Norman Anderson, executive vice president of the American Psychological Association.

He advised parents to model healthy stress management strategies. “Children should see us eating a healthy diet, taking time to exercise, or engaging in meditation when we’re stressed.”

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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