Teens and Anxiety

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast we talk about: Teens and Anxiety.

Teens and anxiety.

Teens and Anxiety

With the world going through a long pandemic, teens are experiencing more anxiety than in the past (the same goes with their parents). Today Vicki discusses how to deal with anxiety for homeschool high schoolers.

Anxiety is part of the human condition; there is no such thing as a stress-free life. Most of the time, anxiety can be manageable. However, if life is stressful for long periods of time, stress hormones can build up in the body and cause:

  • Panic attacks (heart pounding, can’t catch your breath)
  • Digestive issues

These issues are quite easily dealt with using cognitive-behavioral therapy (btw- Vicki practices CBT with her counseling clients). It is worth getting these uncomfortable issues treated and then teens have a lifetime to be able to use their skills!

If anxiety has not built up to the level of experiencing panic attacks or physical symptoms, here are some simple tips that can help:

Parents: if you have anxiety, when you deal with your anxiety it will help the entire household

Parents, whether they like it or not, set the emotional tone for a home. If you set the tone of “yes, I have anxiety but this is how I deal with it”, children and teens grow up to understand that anxiety is a thing but it is a thing that can be managed and helped.

Teach deep breathing

Anxiety is experienced in the body as a dose of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). It helps your teens to be able to run more quickly when the lions are chasing them. Unfortunately or fortunately, there are no lions these days, so stress hormones tend to stay in the body waiting to be used. That is the restless, muscle-achy feeling of anxiety.

God, in his wisdom, gave an antidote for stress hormones: oxygen. And it’s free! (For teens who have Apple watches, their watch actually tells them to breathe- tell your teens to pay attention to that.)

  • To deep breathe:
    • Breathe in through your nose (count to at least 5), try to fill your stomach with air, too
    • Breathe out like a birthday candle (purse your lips and breathe out slowly- count to at least 7)
    • The cool thing about the slow breathe-out  is that your teen is activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that says: It’s okay to calm down.
  • Once or twice a day do a deep breathing exercise:

Stay hydrated

If you are hungry, your stomach growls to tell you it needs food. One way your brain cells tell you they are dehydrated is sending anxiety signals. (Brain cells are mostly water, so they cannot do their work, if the water levels are too low.)

Eat healthy foods

The neurotransmitters (the signals that the brain cells make) that help manage mood, energy and anxiety are made from the micronutrients in real food: real proteins, fruits and veggies, probiotics. This is one reason we ask our kids to take their Health class in high school. It helps them own their own self-care. Look at 7SistersHomeschool’s High School Health for the Whole Person.

Get exercise

Teens need to move their bodies more than any time in life. The pandemic has crimped their style for many teens, which is contributing to anxiety. BUT it is SO important to anxiety management and academic success. Moving the body, increases oxygen and also dopamine (for better mood and concentration) and proteins necessary for concentration. (Food for thought: It might be easier to focus on difficult courses if teens exercise first.)

If your teens are too pandemic-stuck to come up with their own exercise ideas, perhaps some family walks or hikes on the weekends might help kickstart the process.

Anxiety is managed with: *Self-care *Thought-care *Lifestyle *Fun *Creativity

Laugh

Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that a “merry heart doeth good like a medicine”. (God is always right, you know.) It turns out that when we laugh, our brains release endorphins and oxytocin. These are mood enhancing and healing hormones.

Be creative

God is a creator and he make us to be creative, also. In fact, using the creative part of the brain activates calming parts of the brain. Creativity can look like:

  • Art projects
  • Doodling
  • Photography
  • Sewing
  • Building
  • Poetry
  • Dance
  • Creative writing
  • Singing
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Creating music on Garageband
  • Cooking

The most important thing that teens need to know about creativity is that they do not need to be good at it. The point is creating, not being “best” or “expert”.

Work on thought patterns

Teens often think negatively about themselves: If I can’t be good at this when I start out, I am a failure. (This causes avoidance and shut-down- writing papers the night before due dates!) Teach teens the power of “yet”. I’m not good at this yet, but I’ll keep working and get better. This is called a growth mindset.

  • Limit: “What if thinking.”  Don’t only plan for disasters. If your teen’s brain says “what if something bad happens”, have them add an empowered way to handle it. “If that happens I can do this.” Then start training the brain away for “what its” (because they usually don’t happen, anyway).
  • Catch self-critical thought and statements
  • Catch them on things well-done or well-tried and compliment
  • Give them a mentor that can model self-care, self-talk, self-confidence

Have new experiences

People need new things. During the pandemic we have all had too much of the same, same, same. This causes anxiety. However, anytime you do something new, when you get home, your brains release oxytocin (healing and bonding hormone).

Remember, if things get too anxious, talk to your family doctor and counselor. Anxiety is such a help-able thing!

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Teens and Anxiety

HSHSP Ep 136: Teaching Teens to Cope with Stress, Interview with Marianna Chambers

This week on HSHSP Ep 136: Teaching Teens to Cope with Stress, Interview with Marianna Chambers.

HSHSP Ep 136: Teaching Teens to Cope with Stress, Interview with Marianna Chambers Adolescent years are good times to learn to manage stress and anxiety.

HSHSP Ep 136: Teaching Teens to Cope with Stress, Interview with Marianna Chambers

One things teens know about is stress and CBD Isolate to get rid of this. For that matter, we moms know about stress, too! Marianna Chambers joins Vicki for a discussion about helping teens (and ourselves) deal with stress.

Marianna, like Vicki, is a counselor by profession and a homeschool mom. One of her passions is helping people manage anxiety and stress. Marianna is also a fellow podcaster here on Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. Her podcast is the Peaceful Mom Talk. You’ll love this episode of her podcast: 4 Reasons We Struggle to Parent Peacefully.

To get you started, here’s a fun HSHSP episode on managing your own stress.

One of the most important ways to help teens cope with stress is helping them take control of their sleep.

Here are some tips:

Set a timer.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and spend that 10 minutes really thinking hard about all the things you’re stressed about. Believe it or not, when we give ourselves permission to think it through for a limited time, stress actually becomes easier to control. GREAT thing to do before bedtime (not when you are in bed).

Get thoughts down on paper.

Our brains do so much better if we do a *brain dump*: get all those thoughts on paper (or note pad on your phone). Don’t make it a proper essay (no one is grading this)! Make a bullet list, make a scribbled mess, whatever…just get everything out on paper.

Make your to-do list for tomorrow before you get ready for bed.

Make your plans and figure your tomorrow’s schedule out before you get ready for bed.

Talk it out with a friend.

If your friend was upset about something, would you want her to talk to you? Of course! Well, the same applies to you, right? That’s what friends are for, and it helps! (If your teen doesn’t have a friend like that, it is a good idea to pray about God’s wisdom on finding good friends.)

Talk to a counselor.

Talking to a counselor or youth pastor is a great idea. It really helps!

Shift your thinking to something else.

After you do the exercises above, shift your attention to something else. Here are some ideas:

  • Do a word puzzle.
  • Make a list of people to help.
  • Practice a mindful activity. (Here’s an excellent post from Vicki’s coaching site with mindful ideas for people who aren’t naturally mindful.)

Put your thoughts in a box.

It sounds goofy but it works, try it. Using your imagination, think about a beautiful box, think about what it would look like. Then tell your brain that you are now putting your thoughts in a box. Tell your brain you can get the thoughts back out later but for now they will stay in the box. This is something that, although it is unusual really helps!

Join Vicki and Marianna for a discussion on dealing with stress. Also, look for more from Marianna Chambers at FindYourMomTribe FB page and FindYourMomTribe.com.

You’ll also enjoy these posts:

3 Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety and 5 Tools for Success

What Does a Teen Need Most from Homeschool High School?

Homeschooling Teens with Mental Illness

HSHSP Ep 136: Teaching Teens to Cope with Stress, Interview with Marianna Chambers