10 Ways to Help Your Anxious Teen
Anxiety is a normal part of life. Everyone feels anxious or worried at some point in their lives. There is healthy anxiety, the anxiety that pushes teenagers to study for a test a week before the exam.
And then there is unhealthy anxiety, the fear that comes along with throwing up before having to take an exam and then performing poorly because you were scared of failing.
Teenagers are under a tremendous amount of pressure. They are sorting out their own feelings, while balancing the expectations of their parents, teachers and friends.
They are thinking about going to college. They are thinking about dating and socializing. They are thinking about getting their first job and car. They are constantly thinking, thinking and thinking. All of this thinking can lead to high periods of stress and anxiety.
If your teenager is experiencing anxiety, here are ten tips you can follow to help your son/daughter manage their anxiety.
1. Help them reduce their triggers
Ask your child what triggers their anxiety. You won’t be able to solve all of their problems but if studying right when they get home is a trigger for them, you may want to consider moving their study time.
2. Remind them they don’t have to be perfect
Perfectionism drives feelings of worry and anxiety. While setting appropriate expectations is a good thing, reminding your teen that they don’t have to be perfect might help them to relax in life and learn a healthy way to achieve their goals.
3. Encourage them to engage in healthy outlets
My number one recommendation for anxiety is exercise. It doesn’t have to be a high intensity CrossFit class; however moderate exercise on most days will be a natural anti-anxiety remedy.
4. Reduce triggers within the environment
Caffeine is one of those things that can trigger anxiety. If your teen is highly anxious, I would recommend not having soda, especially if they notice a difference. Look for other triggers within the home or their life that might need to be removed.
Check out the article below on foods that can help anxiety!
5. Allow them to vent, when needed
Sometimes all anyone needs when it comes to anxiety is to get things off of their chest. That’s why therapy can be an effective tool because people need to get out everything in their head and then they feel better.
6. Acknowledge the underlying fears
If your teen is stressed about an upcoming test, you can check in to see if they are really worried about graduating and going off to college. A lot of times it’s not the surface level issue that is causing the anxiety, but something deeper.
7. Empathize and share about your anxieties and fears
One way to help your teen with anxiety is to let them know times in your life when you felt anxious and how that shows up for you. Empathy is a great way to connect.
8. Learn to stay calm when they are anxious
It is very common to get anxious when people around us become anxious. Learning your own strategies, such as deep breathing, to reduce anxiety can be very helpful in remaining calm.
9. Incorporate relaxing activities into your daily life
Burn lavender oil in your house. Reduce chaos and clutter around the home. Help your teen to do the same in their room. Try doing a yoga class together as a family. Look for ways to bring calm and relaxation into your house.
10. Explore having them see a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety in teens
If your teen’s anxiety is getting in the way of their functioning in school, work or home, you may want to consider working with a therapist who specializes in anxiety and teens.
Some families are naturally more relaxed and calm than others. Learning how to bring calm into my life has tremendously helped me teach my clients how to reduce anxiety in their lives.
Through the strategies outlined above, you too can bring calm into your family life and positively impact your anxious teen.
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Check out these other articles on teen issues:
9 Ways to Monitor Your Teens Social Media Access
Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP, NCC is a psychotherapist who helps teenagers and young adults learn coping strategies to manage depression and anxiety. Amanda helps her clients begin on the journey of symptom relief, self-discovery and healing. You can find Amanda on her site AmandaPattersonLMHC.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.