Salgado column: Teenagers have stress, too

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2012

By Bri Salgado
Salisbury Post
Many adults will say teenagers do not have “real stress” in their lives. As a senior in high school, I live with stress every day. Granted, what causes stress in adults is not necessarily the same as what stresses teenagers out.
Typical adult stress includes work, family, money and keeping up with everything that goes on in the household. While that is quite a bit to balance, adults forget that teenagers are juggling just as much.
High school students have homework for multiple classes each night, tests to study for, college application deadlines quickly approaching, family problems, peer pressure, plus any extracurricular activities they may be involved in.
Hugh Good, a guidance counselor at East Rowan High School, says he sees stress as a healthy, important part of life.
“Everybody has stress,” he said. “It’s important that they know how to handle that stress. When that stress becomes too much, teenagers need to know when to ask for a hand.”
Every person handles stress differently, whether they are 16 or 36. Some people yell, some people eat, some people throw things. Good said children copy their parents, especially the negative things. If a parent deals with stress inappropriately, teenagers will often mimic their actions or be unsure of how to handle stress at all. Mr. Good is often stressed out when one of his nine grandchildren is struggling with something at school, and he is unable to offer his help, due to living so far away. He handles that stress by waking up at 5 a.m. every day to go running. Having a physical outlet for stress is a great way to release all that is weighing you down, giving you a positive focus for your energy.
Good advised teenagers to get active instead of going home and sitting down in front of the computer or television.
“The most important thing, when dealing with stress, is to show up to work or school, do your job, and do it well. Don’t let the stress keep you from doing your best.”
The school system is starting a new program called “SOS: Signs of Suicide.”
The goal of the program is to teach students to recognize signs of suicide and depression in themselves, friends and loved ones, and then share this information they have with a trusted adult.
“We can’t clone ourselves to be in every classroom,” Good said. “That’s why we want everyone else to be our eyes and ears.” Obviously, it is a tragic thing when a young person is so overwhelmingly stressed to the point of depression and thoughts of suicide.
That’s why Good teaches students about healthy ways to deal with stress. “A good place to start would be to eat breakfast, and get a good night’s sleep,” Good said.
Stress in the life of teenagers is real stress, just a different type of stress.
Bri Salgado is a senior East Rowan High School.