It’s true that anxiety is a normal part of life, but it doesn’t mean that anxiety needs to control your life. In fact, it’s a healthy response to stressful situations and allows people to sense danger quickly and make quick decisions. However, people with anxiety disorders feel anxious much more often than most people do—they might feel nervous about things that other people don’t even notice—and their anxiety can interfere with their ability to function in everyday life.
Anxiety in teens can manifest itself in many different ways. They may experience fear of school or social situations, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping or concentrating on schoolwork, and more. If you think your child may be experiencing some signs of anxiety, here are some different approaches you can take to help them out.
Seek Out Mental Health Professionals Experienced with Teens
If you decide to seek out mental health professionals, it’s important to choose one who specializes in treating teens. Ideally, they should have experience working with teens and their parents. The type of therapy used will depend on your teen’s specific needs and situation. For example, teen social anxiety requires a different approach than anxiety centered around a traumatic experience.
Psychodynamic therapies can help patients explore the underlying issues that contribute to anxiety symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change negative thought patterns associated with anxiety and group therapy is helpful for teens who find it difficult to open up about their struggles.
Help Teens With Anxiety to ask for Help
Anxiety in teens is often a hidden problem. Teens will often struggle with anxiety alone because they don’t want to be judged, embarrassed, or ashamed of their feelings. They may think they are the only ones with this problem. They may also have a hard time asking for help. It’s important that parents and caregivers help teens learn how to ask for help when they need it. You can do this by modeling your own willingness to ask for support when you need it. Help your child learn to express their feelings to you or another trusted adult.
Teach Teens to Recognize Their Triggers
If you’re able to identify the cause of their stress, then you can work with them on ways to avoid or manage that trigger so that it doesn’t trigger an anxiety attack. For example, if a certain place makes your teen anxious because of an unpleasant experience there in the past, then make sure they know how to get out quickly if they start feeling uncomfortable again.
Use Herbal Remedies to Relax the Body
Herbal remedies are a great alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, but they can have their own side effects. If you’re going to use herbal supplements, be sure to talk with your doctor first. Herbs that may help reduce anxiety include valerian root, passionflower, lemon balm, and chamomile. They’re available in powdered form or as teas. Working with an herbalist or holistic medical professional can ensure that you offer the right dosing to your teen for their anxiety. Some herbs can be toxic in large doses so make sure not to take more than what’s recommended by a health professional or manufacturer’s label on the product packaging.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
When it comes to anxiety, relaxation techniques can sometimes be as effective as medication. The key is finding one that works for you and practicing it on a regular basis. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, Yoga, and stretching are just a handful of options to try.
Meditation involves clearing your mind of all thoughts and focusing on breathing in and out. Deep breathing exercises are similar, but this technique involves taking deep breaths from your diaphragm as opposed to shallow ones from your chest area. This helps reduce anxiety by calming down your nervous system so that it doesn’t get overactive when under stress or pressure situations. Yoga poses and stretching involve breathing and movement and can be beneficial when people experience anxiety.
Imagery is a technique used to help reduce stress and anxiety, especially in teens. In imagery, a person imagines something pleasant or relaxing—such as walking through the woods or lying on the beach. The goal is to evoke positive feelings and reduce negative ones. Imagery can be especially helpful for teens who are having a difficult time controlling their stress levels because it helps them relax. Teens can use it when taking tests, when doing homework, and when other anxiety-inducing situations arise.
Help Your Teen Eat a Healthy Diet and Get Enough Rest
You can help your teen learn to manage stress and minimize anxiety by encouraging them to eat a healthy diet. In addition, be sure they get enough sleep. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to experience mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles. If your teen is having a hard time sleeping, talk to their doctor about behavioral therapy, herbs, and other approaches that can help them rest better.
Encourage Exercise or Sports
Exercise often gets your teen outside and engaged in physical activity that can help their brain make more happy hormones. These hormones help to reduce stress levels, which can impact their anxiety levels as well. Sports are also social activities that can help teens struggling with social anxiety make friends in healthy ways. They will learn self-discipline and goal-setting, and even gain a positive perspective of themselves. If needed, look for individual sports that involve minimal contact with other people, like swimming or track, so that your teen will feel less vulnerable around others.
Procrastination can cause anxiety in even the healthiest of adults. It’s best not to procrastinate. Teens who want to reduce stress should learn healthy time management so that they don’t end up procrastinating on important tasks. Give your teen the tools he or she needs to be successful in this and check in on them regularly. Some teens with ADHD as well might struggle to do complex tasks and need your help to break them down into smaller components. Sit with your teen each week and have them put their assignments on a calendar with due dates and then schedule a time to work on each one.
When you have teens, it’s important to help them learn ways to cope with stress and manage anxiety. While the average person might only need a little help, some teens may require the care of a medical professional to overcome their anxiety.