Let’s Talk About Youth and Anxiety

Written by the YES! for Equity Youth Staff Team

With the COVID-19 pandemic, final exams, graduation, Roe v. Wade, mass shootings, climate change, debt, bills, and much more…who wouldn’t be anxious!

In today’s society, it takes a strong person to navigate through their daily trials without a sliver of anxiety flowing through their veins; to that 0.0001% of people….this post is not for you. For all of those people riddled with anxiety, diagnosed or not, life feels like a really bad improv session with your brain saying “Yes, but…” at everything it comes across. How are you to navigate and tame your brain from driving you insane?? As someone who also suffers from the plague of anxiety, I can help navigate you through the barbed wire of “what ifs,” random scary facts, sleepless nights, the infamous “They’re all looking at me,” and their cousin “I forgot how to walk,” plus some extra. 

First off we need to understand what anxiety truly is. Personally, I see anxiety as an ongoing emotion filled with tension, worry, heat flashes, fidgeting, and the occasional counting or sorting of things in your mind. The true definition is, “a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.” What many parents tend to do when they hear about their child having anxiety, they push it to the side because it’s “in their mind,” but fatigue, stomach pains, chronic headaches, and insomnia are avid signs of anxiety. Ironically enough, one way to alleviate anxiety is getting a good night’s rest. However, it’s hard to do when insomnia has you in a chokehold. If that’s the case for you, don’t fret too much. There are other ways to lessen the blow of anxiety. 

What to do when anxiety messes with you! 

  • Breathing exercises 
  • Exercising
  • Journaling
  • Meditation (having some type of downtime)
  • Reading
  • Socializing, following pandemic guidelines of social distancing, masking, and hand hygiene)
  • Speaking with your therapist 

*Although these are great ways to punch anxiety in the face, I find the best things that help are:

  • Listening to music and closing your eyes 
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Taking a detox away from friends after your social battery is drained 
  • Binge-watching a show that used to bring you comfort when you were younger 
  • Taking naps during your downtime if you are unable to sleep at night
  • Making weird daily goals to motivate you to focus on other things while out and about (Ex. I will see a dog with a blue collar later today!)
  • Coming up with a healthy habit when anxious (Ex. Counting, tapping each finger with your thumb, etc.)
  • Making an “Outside Playlist” (A playlist that keeps you upbeat and energized when outside)

Of course, there are tons of ways to put your anxiety at ease, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to take breaks when needed, listen to your body, and reach out to a mental health specialist/therapist! In order to overcome and accept something, you have to learn how to negotiate with it (like a sibling you just hit and now you have to wash dishes for a week to stop them from crying). 

For more information regarding Anxiety, please visit: MedlinePlus.gov