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Is your teen struggling with anxiety?

It’s no secret, 2020 has been tough to get through. The pressures that the ongoing pandemic have placed on all of us have been challenging, especially for students who have had to adapt to online learning overnight. If you’re a student in this strange time, it can be extremely difficult to find the motivation to get up and tune in to class while the world is in a moment of crisis.

While the pandemic continues, it’s important to prioritize your mental health in tandem with your daily tasks. And even when school does return to an in-person setting, you want to maintain a robust practice of keeping your psychological and emotional wellbeing in check.

So how can you stay on top of your anxiety when studies are too demanding or overwhelming? We’ve got some tips to help you get through this difficult time with a list of activities and practices to check in with yourself.

Here’s some ways students can mitigate the effects of anxiety:

1. Normalize Checking in with Yourself

A lot of us who suffer from anxiety don’t know to recognize the telltale signs before it’s too late. The only time you seem to realize you’re in an anxious situation is when you’re in a state of panic about sending in an assignment just seconds before it’s due. Luckily, you can plan ahead to check in with yourself.

Find a regular time to formally ask yourself how you’re feeling. It could be every Friday, or it could be every time you have to study for a test. Depending on how frequently you experience the effects of anxiety, you may need to set a soothing alarm to check in with yourself every hour. That’s completely okay.

When checking in with yourself, it’s also helpful to make a list of all the symptoms you experience when you feel anxiety. Is it a headache? Stomach cramps? A fast heart rate? Whatever you feel that makes you uncomfortable or prevents you from thinking clearly, jot down the symptoms so you can recognize them early on. When you start to feel anxiety coming on and have a heightened awareness of what’s to come, you can excuse yourself from the situation until you’ve had a chance to think things through.

Let’s say you need to communicate with a teacher about your last essay grade. You did poorly and you want to know how to get better, but this particular instructor can be a bit intimidating. Having a list of your symptoms readily available can help you observe them, alerting you to take a step back. If you know one of your symptoms is a fast heart rate, you can slow it down with some deep breathing or by drinking a tall glass of water. Once you are more in control of your emotions, you can take care you’re your tasks while feeling comfortable.

2. Phone a Friend

One of the hardest hitting aspects of quarantine is that you don’t have your friends around to talk with, hang out, or vent about what’s going on in your life. Though we’re all quarantining separately, you’re not alone in your struggle to seek out a sense of peace and calm in your life.

Anxiety has the ability to trap you in your own mind and body when you’re in a downward spiral. When you notice that you’re getting caught in your head, it can help contact a friend for guidance and to get you out of your head.

Enjoying the company of a companion will get you to think externally, helping your brain produce endorphins to relieve pain and stress and boost your happiness. After speaking to a friend or a loved one, you’ll find that you feel lighter and can tackle your work with more energy and resilience.

When it comes to receiving specific help on school issues though, developing a personal relationship with mentors can also be helpful. While teachers and your parents might be preoccupied with their own COVID-related stressors, you may want to turn to other students in your school who have already taken the classes you’ve taken or experts who can help you with what you’re going through.

Studies have shown that the benefits of tutoring extend well beyond achieving good grades! Tutors can help you with time management, relating your studies to your personal interests, and take the pressure off of speaking with a teacher or professor. Mentors can also provide you with personalized study strategies as well as good coping skills. 

3. Live in the Moment

Anxiety is often caused by worrying about a future situation. Whether it’s the outcome of a job interview or the results of an exam, your mind is caught up in a situation that hasn’t really happened yet, and it can take away from your productivity in the moment.

When teens get trapped by the worst-case scenario, it can lead to panicked decision-making and further their anxiety about doing a good job on their assignment. This is why it’s important to plan ahead for situations that can put you in an anxious state of mind, so you be more present and level-headed.

One way to live in the moment and stay focused on the present is, ironically, by planning ahead. You can configure your schedule to anticipate anxiety-inducing activities that will affect your well-being and your work. Simply extend the amount of time a given activity will take to include a moment of calm before and after the event.

If you have a Zoom call scheduled at 3:00, add to your agenda that you’ll need to start doing breathing exercises at 2:30 and then again at 4:00. When you do this, you’re planning on smoothing out your emotions and cushioning stressful events. This can prevent you from spiraling out unexpectedly by giving your body the physical preparation to better handle stress.

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Post is contributed by a guest writer.

If your teen is struggling with stress, anxiety and even causing depression — if you’ve exhausted your local resources, contact us to learn more about how teen help programs might be able to help.

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