Teens and anxiety. The two seem to go hand in hand. If you are a parent looking to help your teen through this tough and often turbulent time, then you are not alone. Anxiety in children and teens is on the rise and you will want to know what you can do to make this time easier for them. To make a difference, here are some options that will help your teen not only feel better but receive the right support from you.
1. Encourage physical activity: Physical activity is one of the best ways teens can deal with anxiety. It’s mentally and physically healthy, productive, and something they can do with you or their peers. Whether it’s yoga, a run, a workout at the gym, or anything else, physical activity is a wonderful recommendation for helping anxious teens. It’s great during an anxiety-rich day, and as maintenance for the lasting anxiety in your teen.
2. Sleep 8-9 hours a night: Lack of sleep can make any teen more anxious, so make sure that they are getting the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep each night. To make that easier to accomplish, you can try making a deal with your teen to put away electronics after a certain time in the evening, and offer incentives for them to get the right sleep. This is often a tricky thing to guarantee, especially with those who have active social lives and decent amounts of homework, but it can be done. Just set up a plan with them that is agreeable to all perhaps as an “experiment” to start. Once he or she sees the benefits of it, they might even be self- motivated to get the sleep they need – we can hope!
3. Limit the caffeine: You probably know yourself that when you have too much caffeine, you can get jittery and anxious, so now imagine your teen having that jittery feeling on top of the already existing anxiety. When you are that age and dealing with anxiety, caffeine just makes it worse until it can get unbearable. So, limit the caffeine that your teen takes in, whether it’s from coffee or sugary drinks. You’ll find that it can help reduce your teen’s anxiety, too, especially if they are used to having these drinks on a regular basis. If they see the positive results, they may even take this new “no caffeine” rule seriously on their own.
4. Find some new and productive hobbies: Keeping busy and distracted with fun and entertaining activities is a fantastic way of getting rid of anxious energy. Help your teen find a new activity that is full of potential. Creative pursuits involving music, art, theatre and singing/dancing are all what we consider to be right-brained activities. These can feel like an escape and help your teen relax while expressing themselves in a safe environment. Other hobbies that can be helpful include reading/writing, model building, chess/games, sports and school clubs and volunteering.
5. Have an anxiety-friend: If there is a loved one in your family or close friend that deals with anxiety on a regular basis put them in contact with your teen. In our modern times, snapchat or texting can be a “safe” way for your teen to communicate with someone when they are having a tough day. You will be able to trust that your teen is communicating with someone safe. Your teen will benefit from knowing they are not alone and learn new ways of managing their emotions. A new perspective from a trusted family member/friend will go a long way toward helping your teen manage this challenging time.
Teen anxiety is a real concern in our world with all of the stressors that pop up during this time in life, but when you have the right tools in place, dealing with the anxiety can get a little easier and a whole lot more realistic. It simply comes down to having the best tools to get the job done, and this will help.