Major issues that affect the country such as the Capitol Riot on Jan. 6 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can stress teens out and make them feel helpless in addressing them.
Added with the anxiety from school and interruption of normal life, that stress can be difficult to manage.
After the Capitol Riot, many teens expressed “deep dismay and frustration” and a “world weariness,” according to a New York Times survey of over 1,250 students.
For many young people, including myself, this anxiety and stress has had adverse effects on physical and mental health.
“Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of
issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control,” according to the American Psychological Association.
Recent events have had a huge impact on students, and many youth generally have trouble handling that stress.
Forty-two percent of teens said they “were not doing enough or were not sure they were doing enough to manage their stress,” and 13% said they “never set aside time to manage stress,” according to a survey by the APA.
An effective method of managing stress and anxiety caused by world events is to transform it into productivity and address those issues.
“Most people have an anxiety sweet spot where they have enough anxiety to feel alert, but not enough to feel debilitated,” according to Good Therapy. “In this state, anxiety can be an excellent motivator.”
Essentially, if fighting stress doesn’t work, then working with it could help.
“Research suggests that taking action on an issue you care about can ease stress,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
The current pandemic, for example, serves as a constant source of stress for many, and it has made it difficult for the elderly in our communities to safely perform essential tasks such as grocery shopping.
Volunteering with organizations like the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which is currently buying and delivering groceries to the elderly, could be a good way to channel that stress.
But volunteering isn’t the only option.
Signing petitions, contacting government representatives and starting a dialogue with peers aren’t as time-consuming as community service but can go a long way in addressing stressful issues.
Although stress can impact us negatively, it can also serve as an untapped reservoir of motivation, and if we’re already feeling it, then we should use it to affect change in the issues that stress us out.