The Stress of Stepping Forward


Grace Cappas, Lead Writer

Throughout the world, people from all walks of life suffer from anxiety at some point in their lives, whether the cause is something as small as an upcoming test or as big as a lifelong obstacle. Although, there may be something to say for the recent influx of anxiety in teenagers today, especially with the pressure of college coming onto graduating seniors.
Symptoms of anxiety vary widely, from avoidance to irritability, recurring fears and worries about routine parts of everyday life, trouble concentrating, extreme self-consciousness or sensitivity to criticism, and withdrawal from social activity.
“I used to feel anxious last year more so than this year. That was mainly because I wasn’t sure what route I wanted to take for college,” senior Mary Marcinek said.
According to the Nuffield Foundation, the proportion of 17 to 18 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in 10 for girls.
“There are so many more factors that exist today than even five years ago. Everything is a competition,” English teacher Brooke Manhattan said.
With the world evolving in new ways every year, there are more and more factors influencing teenagers and the anxiety they feel than there were back then: social media, more mainstream access to illegal substances, and more. Not to mention the uncertainty of a looming future that follows with ending a high school career.
“The idea of leaving for college definitely makes me anxious. Within the next few months, everything I’ve known for the last 17 years will be different, and that has caused me some anxiety recently,” senior Helena Maunes said.
With anxiety on the brain, teachers also take time to reflect on their own stress levels in high school.
“I think anxiety is definitely worse today than it was then. Social media, more pressures, more things outside of school going on that all play into anxiety for teenagers that we didn’t have when I was a student,” physics teacher Jerome Flewelling said.
There has been an increase in self-reported stress among parents of teenagers between the 1980s and 2000s, affecting single parents and parents on low incomes to a greater extent than other families.
“Anxiety is definitely worse now, because they are more open about it. When I was in school no one talked about it,” art teacher Diane St. Martin said.
Although anxiety may be reaching new levels, so are the ways to cope with it. Besides the fact that scientists are finding new ways to treat anxiety everyday, whether that is medication or therapy, there are little things one can do to calm themselves down in the moment when need be.
“When I feel anxious, I try to do things I enjoy to relieve the stressful feelings. By doing this, it distracts my mind from whatever I’m anxious about, and instead fills it with things I like. For example, I will re-watch one of my favorite movies, take a nap, or scroll through social media,” Maunes said.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, when dealing with anxiety, it is important to take care of oneself, whether that’s maintaining a healthy diet or getting a good night’s sleep. It is also important to identify what triggers one’s anxiety to know how to avoid those things better.
“When I feel anxious, I can cope by writing down everything that I have to do and then budget my time accordingly,” senior Tyler Hudak said.
A new and effective way of coping with anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a method that focuses on changing the way you think and behave. It can be applied with a therapist or even done on your own.
Whether anxiety is worse now or not, it is important to anyone suffering these symptoms to get help or talk to someone comfortable as soon as possible, and cope properly.
“It always helps me to talk to friends or family members about worries that I have. It helps to physically hear myself talk through issues and to hear the perspectives of people I trust,” Marcinek said.


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