How to Help Your Teen Handle Their Anxiety
posted by: Guest Blogger
It’s difficult to be a teen these days; with all the pressures of school, relationships, moving to a new home/school (for some), and society itself, it’s no wonder many kids find themselves battling anxiety every day. These feelings can affect a teen’s academic progress, friendships, and ability to function in social circles, yet it can be hard for parents to know how to help or even when to step in.
Because anxiety and stress are caused by so many different things and can have various symptoms, it can be tricky to treat. It’s a good idea to sit down with your child and talk to them about their feelings as well as whether or not they feel prepared to cope with them. If not, it may be time to seek the help of a counselor or therapist, which can benefit the entire family.
Here are some of the best tips on how to help your teen get through feelings of anxiety and stress.
Pick your battles
Many parents and teens find themselves at odds frequently, and that’s normal. If you know your teen is having a particularly hard time, however, allow them a little space to work through it and let them know you’ll be there to support them in whatever way they need you to be. Stay calm and schedule some family time so your teen feels connected.
Foster healthy habits
Stress and anxiety can take a toll mentally, emotionally, and physically. One of the best ways to battle it is to exercise daily, so help foster healthy habits by getting the family outside for a walk after dinner, or throw together a quick game of kickball in the yard. Getting involved in a workout yourself will not only be supportive, it will allow you to be a good role model as well.
Getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet are also great ways to battle anxiety, but these can be difficult lifestyle changes for a teen. Encourage her to start incorporating relaxing habits into her nighttime routine–such as taking a hot bath, listening to soothing music, or using lavender-scented lotion–to help get her ready for sleep. Look at Pinterest to find some healthy dinner ideas and cook them together.
Cut those bad habits
Sleeping too much or too little, not eating right, drinking too much caffeine, and engaging in unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking can all exacerbate anxiety. Talk to your teen about how those things can make their feelings worse and look for new, healthy ways they can work off the stress, such as exploring an art form or learning something new.
Make mental health a priority
Because anxiety and stress can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts in teens, it’s imperative to talk to your child about his feelings, his thoughts, and what’s going on in his life. Be a good listener and show him that you’ll support him no matter what. This can include having long talks, but it might also include talking to a therapist or counselor at school, or joining a support group.
Try new things
Trying different coping methods is a part of life for individuals with anxiety, so allow your teen to explore various things that help, such as music, art, sports, writing, or anything else creative/active that interests them. Encourage your child to use whatever works (in a healthy way) to ease the symptoms of anxiety.
Remember that getting through these feelings may be a lifelong battle; try to be patient and let your teen know that they are normal, as that is a worry that many young people face.