One thing we’ve learned from working with so many teens is that anxiety is one of the biggest hurdles that this age group faces. Let’s face it- nowadays life is a lot more busy and hectic than ever before. From the unrealistic standards of social media to endless school exams to those performance nerves that always seem to come back, being a teen can be so tough! And unfortunately having so much stress in your daily life can cause anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, agitation, tension, a racing heart, shortness of breath and chest pain. Any of this sound familiar? Please know you are NOT alone and that there are ways to manage anxiety, here are so good starter tips!
1. Practice deep breathing
Did you know that when we are anxious we tend to take quick and shallow breaths? Opposite to this, deep breathing techniques have been proven to help us relax in the most anxious of times. Practicing deep breathing settles your body and slows your mind. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises, slowing down your heart rate and making you feel more relaxed. So the next time you’re feeling anxious, slow your breathing down and make sure it goes all the way down to your belly. Focus all of your awareness on your breath.
2. Do some exercise
Exercise is one of the best ways to burn off anxious energy. Studies show that people who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from anxiety than those who don't exercise. Through physical activity, mental stress is relieved. There are countless benefits to exercise. It lowers your body's stress hormones, releases endorphins, and can improve the quality of your sleep. Plus- when you exercise regularly, you tend to feel more confident in your body, which results in a stronger mental wellbeing. Try finding a physical activity you enjoy- whether it be walking, dancing or yoga!
3. Talk to someone
Support from your friends and family is so important during hard times. To beat anxiety, try taking a walk with your best friend (or whoever you feel most comfortable venting to) and just talk it out! Sometimes just getting things off your chest by vocalizing it does miracles in lowering anxiety levels. Talk through all of your anxious thoughts- you’ll feel much better after doing it!
4. Write down your feelings
If vocalizing and talking isn’t your thing, try expressing your anxious thoughts through writing. You might want to keep a journal or even write up a quick pros and cons list. Research shows that even creative writing has helped teens manage anxiety. While writing about what your problems is one approach to feeling better, don’t forget to try jotting down all the things you are grateful for!
5. Mindfulness & Meditate
Once you feel anxiety creeping in, turn off your phone, find a quiet place, light some candles, and try to meditate. Meditation is a great tool for managing anxiety, as it helps slow racing thoughts, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. There are a variety of meditation styles, including mindfulness and meditation during yoga. Practicing mindfulness is great because it focuses you in the present moment, which in turn combats any negative thinking that often triggers anxiety.
6. Simplify your life
Sometimes taking on way more than you can handle can cause you to feel anxious. Juggling way too many commitments, whether it be family, work or school related, can leave you feeling extremely overwhelmed. The key to beating anxiety in this case is to simplify your life. It’s okay to say “no” when you’re too busy to take on any new responsibilities. You have the control to be selective with what you take on. By simplifying your life, you’ll also be able to more effectively manage your time, which will dramatically make you feel less stressed and anxious.
7. Practice Gratitude
Anxiety occurs when we are focused on things we do not want, things that scare us or general overwhelm. Our thoughts dictate our feelings and our feelings dictate our life! A great interceptor of negative thoughts is gratitude. Stopping and switching your focus to all the good things in your life, all the things you are grateful for (i.e. my breakfast this morning, the fact I have clothes to wear, my Mum for taking care of me) will take you away from any negative thoughts and help you realise you have it pretty good. Focus on the positive and you will see more of the positive show up in your life. Focus on the negative, and, you guessed it, you will get more of the negative!
8. Self Talk
What we say to ourselves is the number one factor determining our happiness in life. When we are feeling anxious, we are literally stressing ourselves out due to what is playing on the tape inside our heads. Two people can witness the same situation but have completely different experiences purely based on what they are saying to themselves before, during and after the event. So next time you are starting to feel that anxiety creep up say to yourself “I’ve got this”, “I can do this”, “I am strong”, “I am amazing”, “I know how to do this”, “Everything is going to work out perfectly”, “This is kind of fun!”. Even if you do not believe yourself in the beginning and if you continue to say words of encouragement to yourself, your inner being will start to come around and you will see your inner confidence begin to blossom. You will also be able to handle stressful situations a lot easier. EVERYTHING is mindset, and it all starts with how you talk to yourself in your own head.
9. Embrace the ‘7 Principles of Health’
Make sure you check out our ‘7 principles of health article’ and read all the goodies in there re steps you can take to make your life work for you! Such good stuff! You can find it here.
Anxiety is common, but it does not need to be. You have the power to control your thoughts. They are your thoughts. It they are no longer serving you, it is time to do things a little differently. Work towards implementing the 9 practices mentioned above into your daily life and see how your life transforms. You’ve got this. We believe in you!