In recent years, the rise in mental health concerns among teenagers has brought greater attention to the topic of teen burnout. Adolescence is a pivotal period characterized by academic pressures, social challenges, and the ever-increasing influence of technology and social media. As a result, an alarming number of teens are experiencing the signs and symptoms of burnout, a condition often characterized by emotional exhaustion and overwhelming stress.
This blog delves into the various indicators of teen burnout and offers insights into recognizing and how parents and guardians can help.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Burnout
Anxiety in teens can manifest as restlessness, excessive worry, and avoidance of certain situations. It can also cause negative physical symptoms and changes in sleep and eating habits.
Depression in teens can be characterized by persistent sadness, irritability, and loss of interest in activities. Like anxiety, depression can also cause changes in sleep and eating habits. Withdrawal from friends and family, and a decline in academic performance are also common signs.
Often appearing alongside depression but not always- is a negative outlook. This symptom in teens often involves consistently focusing on the downsides of situations. Experiencing self-doubt, and struggling with low self-esteem caused by a negative outlook can lead to pessimism and a lack of confidence.
Exhaustion in teens can present as persistent fatigue, and a sense of restlessness or unrested, even when they’ve tried to get enough sleep. Constantly complaining of being tired is a sign to start monitoring their other habits. Exhaustion can be a starting point leading to other symptoms and increasing the severity of burnout.
Erratic / Emotional Behavior
Erratic and emotional behavior as a sign of teen burnout can manifest through many different emotions. Impulsive actions, emotional volatility, and extreme expressions of anger, fear, or sadness, can all signal their emotional and psychological distress.
Health issues as a result of teen burnout can include persistent complaints of physical symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, and dryness of the throat and mouth. These symptoms often stem from chronic stress and emotional exhaustion.
Poor Sleep Quality | Insomnia
Sleep problems such as insomnia and nightmares can emerge from burnout in teens due to heightened stress and anxiety. This disrupts their ability to relax and rest effectively, further exacerbating their exhaustion and emotional distress.
Difficulty with concentrating can be a sign of teen burnout, as the overwhelming stress and fatigue associated with burnout can impair cognitive functions. Thus making it challenging for them to focus on tasks and absorb information. Declined academic performance, and difficulty holding a conversation are signs of this symptom.
Poor Eating Habits
Poor eating habits such as under-eating or overeating often accompany burnout in teens, reflecting disruptions in their appetite regulation due to distress and exhaustion.
These behaviors can also serve as coping mechanisms or reactions to stress and anxiety. It’s important to address these poor coping skills and work with them find other ways to cope. Continued poor eating habits may contribute to worse health complications presently and in the future as well.
Aches and Pains
Burnout in teens can lead to physical aches and pains like neck and back pain, often stemming from prolonged stress-induced muscle tension and posture changes, indicating the physical toll of their emotional exhaustion.
How to Help
Parents and guardians play pivotal roles in their teen’s mental health by providing support, open communication, and a nurturing environment. Being proactive in addressing burnout is crucial as early intervention can help teens navigate challenges, reduce the risk of greater burnout, foster resilience, and develop healthy coping skills.
Encourage personal time.
Times of stress are a great time to teach the importance of self-care. Encourage them to do things they enjoy and experiment with other activities that they could find relaxing and comforting.
Work with them to develop stress management activities.
Activities like exercise, practicing mindfulness, gratitude journaling, yoga, and meditation all can help people find a place of mental and emotional calm. Find videos of guided meditations online or other activities and offer to do them together. For a deeper dive into stress management tips and tricks visit our “What To Do When Stress Gets Serious” blog.
Help them maintain their healthy habits.
In busy, stressful times, healthy habits are often the first things to go. Do what you can to help them maintain a good consistent sleep schedule. Check out our “Common Sleep Problems in Teens” blog to delve more into healthy sleep habits for struggling teens. Help provide them with healthy meals and snacks for lunch and after school to keep them mentally sharp. Encourage exercise by going on walks together, hiking a forest preserve, or trying out a rock wall or trampoline park for some more exciting exercise opportunities.
Teach them to reach out for help.
It’s important that your teen knows it’s okay to reach out for help and where they can get it. In addition to parents, let them know about school counselors that can help with their concerns. Parents can also intervene themselves if the school schedule has become too much and can request accommodations like extended deadlines. Depending on the severity of the situation, visiting a psychologist can be a consideration. A professional can work with your teen through all the challenges and build skills to help overcome future ones.
The pressures on teenagers are continually mounting nowadays. It is essential for parents and guardians to remain vigilant, attentive, and proactive in safeguarding their mental well-being. By recognizing the signs of burnout we can help mitigate the negative impact of stress and anxiety. Ultimately, investing in their mental health not only enhances their quality of life but also equips them with the resilience needed to face the challenges of tomorrow.
Sources: Very Well Mind, Nemours, Parenting Teens and Tweens