Talkspace is not yet available to people under 18-years-old. Nonetheless, we have a duty to provide mental health advice to parents of teens.
Parents know being a teenager can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. There is a barrage of tests, social pressures, and people constantly nagging teens about their future. It’s no wonder one in eight adolescents have an anxiety disorder.
If your teen is feeling stressed out, worried, and nervous about various aspects of life, they’re not alone. Anxiety is a feeling everyone experiences.
Chronic anxiety, however, whether it be seasonal, general, social, or specific phobia-related, is something that should be addressed. When anxiety begins to take a toll on day-to-day life and starts affecting social interactions and relationships, your teen could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Below are some steps your teen can take to get chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder under control.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and anxiety are part of a pretty vicious cycle; anyone with anxiety knows this all too well. High levels of anxiety can disrupt sleeping patterns. In turn, poor sleep is a major cause of chronic anxiety.
Getting a good amount of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for coping with anxiety. Begin by setting regular bedtimes and wake-up times. Teens need to teach their bodies to “turn off and turn back on” at set times. A strict schedule is key.
Also, they must make changes to bedroom activity if they’re having trouble sleeping. The bedroom should be for sleeping and sleeping only. They shouldn’t watch TV, play video games, or do homework in bed. They shouldn’t check Facebook or Instagram when going to bed either. Their brains needs to know that when the head hits the pillow, it’s time for sleep time and nothing else.
Increase Levels of Physical Activity
Increasing levels of physical activity can help teens manage how they deal with anxiety. They will be more balanced and able to prevent anxiety from disrupting their decision-making.
Exercise has numerous positive benefits on the brain, sleep, and overall wellbeing. Ask your teen to attempt to increase physical activity if they’re dealing with a lot of anxiety. If some of this activity can be social in nature — like team sports, working out with a friend, or joining a yoga or running club — all the better.
Define Specific Anxiety Triggers and Take Small Steps to Combat Them
Being dismissive or overly general about anxiety, and what causes it, prevents teens from beginning the process of overcoming it. Anxiety is real, and it won’t go away if they try to ignore it.
Ask them to write it all down, to grab a pen and paper (yes, old school) and make a list of specific things that are causing the anxiety. They can write down how these things make them feel both mentally and physically. Then they can rate their anxiety triggers in terms of how much they affect them. Then write down plans to begin to combat those specific sources of anxiety.
Try to be specific. Here’s an example:
“Falling behind in math class is stressing me out. This makes me unable to focus on the work at hand, which only leads to more anxiety. I plan on staying after school to work on math as well as looking into getting a tutor to help.”
Anxiety is sometimes simply a reaction to life’s stressors. If your teen commonly experience anxiety, and it often overwhelms their ability to think reasonably about issues, know that these tips can help manage their anxiety. Sometimes, however, the help of a licensed therapist is required to completely alleviate it. With some work, they can reduce anxiety levels to well within the norm for a teenager.
There can also be a great deal of stress for parents dealing with anxious teens. It’s important to remember to take care of your mental health as well!
Bio: Noah is part of WellnessVoyager, which offers travel tips and advice.