Are you struggling to manage anxiety? Everyone from children to the elderly has situations in their lives that make them anxious. For a young person, these situations might include pressures at school, arguments with friends, chores at home, a busy schedule, disagreements with your parents, and the list could go on and on. While some people have an anxiety disorder that requires treatment, many are dealing with general anxiety that just requires some lifestyle changes. Try the following tips to help you manage your anxiety and see if they help you feel calmer and more in control.
#1 Exercise Daily
Did you know that exercise has been shown to improve anxiety in people who have mild to moderate symptoms? It can also improve severe anxiety, but if you have severe symptoms, you might need additional treatment, too. Make time each day to exercise daily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adolescents get 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
It doesn’t have to be in one hour-long session, though: Try walking to school, if you live close enough. You could also take the scenic route to the bus stop in the morning and home again in the afternoon. Go for a jog with the dog, join the volleyball or soccer team, or dance at night with your little sister. Whatever it takes, get more movement into your day and see if that helps you feel better. This will help you mange anxiety.
#2 Get Enough Sleep
Teens are notoriously sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation makes anxiety worse. The average teen needs between nine and 9.5 hours of sleep each night, but many only get six or seven hours… or even less! It’s understandable that homework and trying to relax can keep you up late, and your alarm goes off very early. Try to think of ways you could manage to get to bed an hour or two earlier. It’s also good to try to add an hour or two of sleep to your weekend mornings.
#3 Take Time for Yourself
Are you over-scheduled? It can be difficult to find time to just relax in the bathtub, read a magazine, take an afternoon nap, or spend a few hours reading if you are always running from one activity to another. Be sure to carve out time to simply enjoy by yourself. This is particularly important for introverts, who recharge when they are alone and not in the company of others.
Have you ever spent time in meditation? It can seem intimidating if you haven’t done it before, but it’s really just spending quiet time alone with your thoughts. Some people prefer to use guided meditation audio files. You can find these for free on YouTube and other websites. You can also choose one sound or word to mentally repeat over and over again. When your focus shifts to something else, gently bring it back to your chosen word. Meditation can help you slow your breathing and heart rate and manage anxiety.
If you have a worries list a mile long, journaling might be just what you need to regain some semblance of control and feel less stressed. You can write down what you’re worried or anxious about. Once it’s on paper and out of your head, you might find it easier to stay calm. Another way journaling can help you is if you write down something that you are grateful for each day. Focusing on all of the things going right in your life can help you keep a positive perspective when things go wrong.
#6 Watch Your Diet
Sticking to a diet that is mostly healthy will allow you to feel better physically, and better physical health often equates to better mental health. Rather than mindlessly munching on junk food when you feel stressed, try eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. You should also make sure you stay hydrated for better mental clarity and less anxiety.
Do you find yourself being serious too much of the time? While taking life seriously is a personality trait that can help you in many ways, it can also hinder you by causing you to overlook the lighthearted and fun things in life. Take time every day to laugh. You might have a telephone conversation with a funny friend, enjoy your pet’s antics, watch a few funny videos online, or read a book that tickles your funny bone. Letting out a few giggles or guffaws can help you manage anxiety.
#8 Learn to Say No
If you are finding that you are too stressed out due to all of the pressures you (or others) have put upon yourself, it’s time to learn how to graciously say no to requests. Some of your activities, of course, are non-negotiable: You have to go to school, show up to work on time, and if you choose to participate in sports, make it to your practices and games. Some, however, are optional. If you are too busy to help with an upcoming 5K, to babysit your little nephew, or to join another study group, just say no. There’s no sense in adding to your already busy schedule. Doing this will help manage anxiety and make you feel better.
#9 Talk to Your Doctor To Help Manage Anxiety
If these tips don’t help and you still feel anxious, ask your parents to make you an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can screen you for an anxiety disorder and can refer you to a therapist or a mental health professional who can help. There is no shame in asking for help; your mental health is as important as your physical health, so be sure to take care of it!
Remember, anxiety is not limited to teenagers. Learning how to manage stress and anxiety now will help you navigate adulthood, which is also filled with stressors. Look at your anxiety as a learning experience. The more you know about yourself and your reactions to stress, the better equipped you will be to overcome anxiety and enjoy your life.