Concerns become a natural part of life for many, and that isn’t beneficial…

Børnerådet has conducted a survey of 2600 8th grade students in Denmark. The study concerns pressure on adolescent life, more specifically how young people themselves experience this pressure, and where they feel the pressure comes from.

My daughter is in 8th grade and she has participated in this study. Therefore, she has received a brochure with a selection of the results from the survey. That’s exciting reading! Among other things, 41% replied that they use Snapchat almost all the time, and 43% replied that they use this media several times daily! It’s a different youth life compared to 26 years ago, when I was in 8th grade. Ffor better or for worse!

What has really caught my attention in the results of the survey is that 21% responded that they often worry, and 41% responded that they worry sometimes. In my opinion, that’s a lot. And too many.

Worries are a part of life. No one goes free. It is part of human nature that we worry because it prepares us for dangers that may be lurking around the next corner. It is likely a mechanism that has contributed to our survival as a species. When that is said, it is the short-term worries that are appropriate. I think of the worries that don’t last long because they are replaced by finding a solution that ensures we are prepared for what could happen. But when worries are something that occupies us often, there is a risk that it becomes a fixed part of our thought processes. It means that we not only worry about what is actually dangerous, but also about things that may not be a real threat. In other words, it is likely that it’s not only what we actually need to worry about that fills our minds. It’s also everything else. Things that are not actually dangerous.

When this happens, we are at risk of developing stress because stress always arises from too many worries for too long. Worries that we don’t find a solution to, and therefore keep going round and round. The young people report worrying about things that are far off in the future and, to a large extent, are things they cannot solve in their lives at present. For example, whether they will receive a good education. They can’t solve that while they are in 8th grade. They are worried about something that they cannot do anything about, and when a worry is not followed by a solution, it tends to come back again and again. It is much more useful to focus on making an effort and focusing on the things that make us feel good now, and above all, to anchor a belief that the future will come in a positive way. Regardless of what happens, the future will come, and our belief about the future, whether positive or negative, has a significant impact on our well-being here and now.

Stress is a growing problem in Denmark and also in the rest of the world, even though we have been talking about it for many years. One of the reasons may be that many learn to worry a lot at a very early age. It becomes a part of the way of being in the world for many. Worries become a natural part of life for many people, which is very disadvantageous since worries, as mentioned, are the cause of stress.

Worries are a particular type of thought process that interact with our beliefs. All of it is “just” thoughts. The nature of thoughts is that they constantly come and go, and the ones that stick are the ones we give time and value to. We can learn to sharpen our attention to which thought processes we give time and value, so we ensure that we fill ourselves up with what is good for us, and not what makes us feel bad.

Let us as adults become role models for our children. Let us, as adults, become role models for our children. Let us ensure together that we do not worry unnecessarily, and that we do not “infect” our children with a worried way of being in the world. And let us teach our children that they largely themselves are in control of what they fill up on in terms of thought processes, so they thrive in life and believe in a bright future. It’s not rocket science. In fact, they are very simple tools that anyone can learn – also young people in the 8th grade!

Happy easter!

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