Useful Tips for Anxiety Advice for Adolescents
When you’re a kid, life can be hectic. Little things, like forgetting homework or missing a ride home, can stack up and add to the pressures of a stressful day. Exercise helps. Unfortunately, reaching for the remote control doesn’t count as a yoga stretching move. Video games can offer a quick escape, but in the long run, learning how to take some positive steps to unwind could be a lot more productive. If adolescents learn how to manage stress, they can feel like they have more control over the chaos.
“First of all, let me get something straight. This is a journal, not a diary. I know what it says on the cover, but when mom went out to buy this thing, I specifically told her to get one that didn’t say diary on it. Great. All I need is for some jerk to catch me carrying this book around and get the wrong idea. The other thing I want to clear up right away is that this was Mom’s idea, not mine.”
So begins Jeff Kinney’s popular book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Two generations ago, the Henry Reed series, by Keith Robertson, began in a similar fashion. Henry Reed also insisted his books were journals, not diaries. Both books have helped kids make the transition from comic books to novels with funny adventures and honest stories that don’t talk down to them. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Kinney’s hero speaks openly about the stresses of living in a world he cannot control. He talks about school, and how much he dislikes going every day:
“Like I said, I’ll be famous one day, but for now I’m stuck in middle school with a bunch of morons. Let me just say for the record that I think middle school is the dumbest idea ever invented. You got kids like me who haven’t hit their growth spurt yet mixed in with these gorillas who need to shave twice a day. And then they wonder why bullying is such a big problem in middle school. If it was up to me, grade levels would be based on height, not age.”
The enormous success of books for kids like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the award-winning Henry Reed series reveals something very significant that adolescents already know andlive with every day: Life for most teens or ‘tweens’ just isn’t as easy as their parents would like to believe. Adolescents spend a great deal of their time worrying about what will happen to them next. This anxiety can seem less overwhelming when they feel they have some control over their lives, or some sort of plan of their own choosing. Within the right framework, they can develop resilient attitudes and even laugh about it.
Journaling (number 8) is just one of the steps for calming the body and mind that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to help ‘frazzled’ adolescents. They suggest several activities that can help them overcome daily stress. The CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind campaign offers these tips to share with adolescents:
Put Your Body in Motion
Moving from the chair to the couch while watching TV is not being physically active! Physical activity is one of the most important ways to keep stress away by clearing your head and lifting your spirits. Physical activity also increases endorphin levels — the natural “feel-good” chemicals in the body which leave you with a naturally happy feeling.
Whether you like full-fledged games of football, tennis, or roller hockey, or you prefer walks with family and friends, it’s important to get up, get out, and get moving!
Start your day off with a full tank — eating breakfast will give you the energy you need to tackle the day. Eating regular meals (this means no skipping dinner) and taking time to enjoy them (nope, eating in the car on the way to practice doesn’t count) will make you feel better too. Make sure to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, proteins (peanut butter, a chicken sandwich, or a tuna salad) and grains (wheat bread, pasta, or some crackers) — these will give you the power you need to make it through those hectic days.
Don’t be fooled by the jolt of energy you get from sodas and sugary snacks — this only lasts a short time, and once it wears off, you may feel sluggish and more tired than usual. For that extra boost of energy to sail through history notes, math class, and after school activities, grab a banana, some string cheese, or a granola bar for some power-packed energy!
Some say that laughter is the best medicine — well, in many cases, it is! Did you know that it takes 15 facial muscles to laugh? Lots of laughin’ can make you feel good — and, that good feeling can stay with you even after the laughter stops. So, head off stress with regular doses of laughter by watching a funny movie or cartoons, reading a joke book (you may even learn some new jokes), or even make up your own riddles…laughter can make you feel like a new person!
Everyone has those days when they do something really silly or stupid — instead of getting upset with yourself, laugh out loud! No one’s perfect!
Have Fun with Friends
Being with people you like is always a good way to ditch your stress. Get a group together to go to the movies, shoot some hoops, or play a board game — or just hang out and talk. Friends can help you work through your problems and let you see the brighter side of things.
Spill to Someone You Trust
Instead of keeping your feelings bottled up inside, talk to someone you trust or respect about what’s bothering you. It could be a friend, a parent, someone in your family, or a teacher. Talking out your problems and seeing them from a different view might help you figure out ways to deal with them. Just remember, you don’t have to go it alone!
Take Time to Chill
Pick a comfy spot to sit and read, daydream, or even take a snooze. Listen to your favorite music. Work on a relaxing project like putting together a puzzle or making jewelry. Stress can sometimes make you feel like a tight rubber band — stretched to the limit! If this happens, take a few deep breaths to help yourself unwind. If you’re in the middle of an impossible homework problem, take a break! Finding time to relax after (and sometimes during) a hectic day or week can make all the difference.
Catch Some ZZZZZ…
Fatigue is a best friend to stress. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s hard to deal — you may feel tired, cranky, or you may have trouble thinking clearly. When you’re overtired, a problem may seem much bigger than it actually is. You may have a hard time doing a school assignment that usually seems easy, you don’t do your best in sports or any physical activity, or you may have an argument with your friends over something really stupid.
Sleep is a big deal! Getting the right amount of sleep is especially important for kids your age. Because your body (and mind) is changing and developing, it requires more sleep to re-charge for the next day. So don’t resist, hit the hay!
Keep a Journal
If you’re having one of those crazy days when nothing goes right, it’s a good idea to write things down in a journal to get it off of your chest — like how you feel, what’s going on in your life, and things you’d like to accomplish. You could even write down what you do when you’re faced with a stressful situation, and then look back and think about how you handled it later. So, find a quiet spot, grab a notebook and pen, and start writing!
Get it Together
Too much to do but not enough time? Forgot your homework? Feeling overwhelmed or discombobulated? Being unprepared for school, practice, or other activities can make for a very stressful day! Getting everything done can be a challenge, but all you have to do is plan a little and get organized.
Lend a Hand
Get involved in an activity that helps others. It’s almost impossible to feel stressed out when you’re helping someone else. It’s also a great way to find out about yourself and the special qualities you never knew you had! Signing up for a service project is a good idea, but helping others is as easy as saying hello, holding a door, or volunteering to keep a neighbor’s pet. If you want to get involved in a more organized volunteer program, try working at a local recreation center, or helping with an after school program. The feeling you will get from helping others is greater than you can imagine!
Need More Anxiety Advice for Adolescents?
It’s easy to tell someone not to sweat the small stuff. For an adolescent with an anxiety disorder, however, there may not be any ‘small stuff.’ Every problem can seem huge when you’re overwhelmed or obsessed. If you or someone you care about are struggling with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, don’t wait for a meltdown. We can help. Discovery Mood offers a wide range of personalized programs for adolescents and teens with anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, self-harm behaviors, gender identity, oppositional defiant disorder, eating disorders, and other challenging mental health issues.
For More Information, Call Now!
Call 800.760.3934. Our integrated behavior modification programs have been helping families discover successful paths to recovery for more than 18 years. Call today and speak with one of our highly trained admission specialists. All calls are completely FREE and completely confidential.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Body and Mind. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips for Parents. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
Reading Rockets: Interview with author Jeff Kenney. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
Pure and Applied Research about Henry Reed, by Peter D. Sieruta. Retrieved September 16, 2016.