The Wonder Woman and Superman complex is as old as the American dream. The individualistic nature of our culture values the drive to be the best and do it all. While these are commendable traits that allow many people to achieve their dreams, there is also a shadow side to this drive that can result in stress-induced nightmares.
We’ve all seen it before: the go-getter rises to the top only to fall over from exhaustion. Priorities become misplaced and moods turn sour. Before you know it, the go-getter has lost sight of his original dream and is drowning in a sea of strained relationships and expectations.
In 2007, researchers at Walden University found that adolescents who are overscheduled report higher rates on anxiety. The negative effects of anxiety on adolescents are numerous and potentially devastating: delinquency, burnout, depression, violence, and substance abuse. Recognizing the signs of overscheduling can create space to reevaluate priorities and hit the reset button for attaining those life-long dreams:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Gets easily frustrated or anxious
- Participates in extracurricular activities everyday
- Complains of fatigue
- Unusual sleep patterns (not sleeping or sleeping too much)
- Inexplicable physical illness
- Decline in academic performance
- Lost interest in pleasurable activities
- Has no free time
- Spends less time with friends
If you recognize these signs in your adolescent, it may be time to cut back on activities that are less of a priority and start scheduling some free time instead. While everyone has a different threshold for activity levels, knowing when that threshold has surpassed its climax may be difference between success and failure.