To internalize something is to make part of oneself either through learning or through unconscious assimilation. Teens can internalize anger and exhibit it later through self-harm or depression. Teens might also internalize their anxiety and also use self-harm as a means to cope with it. This article will discuss ways parents can help a teen cope with anxiety in a healthy way.
Most teens experience at least some form of anxiety, even if it’s a low level of stress. However, when anxiety affects the parent-child relationship, a teen’s daily functioning, or contributes to a mental illness, then it’s important that anxiety is addressed in a healthy way. Of course, there are also ways to prevent anxiety, which parents can facilitate in their teens. Yet, sadly, anxiety can easily get overlooked. Psychiatrist Allison Baker from Columbia University said:
Anxious kids… most often just internalize an anxious experience. They don’t raise flags or cause anyone grief, so they kind of get neglected in the process.
Teens who internalize or ignore their anxiety can very easily turn to substance use, develop depression, or engage in self-harm. For this reason, it’s important to heal anxiety before it becomes destructive. Here are a few ways to prevent and manage anxiety in teens:
Strengthen the parent-teen relationship. One way to heal anxiety is to strengthen family relationships. For instance, when a parent and teen notice that anxiety is affecting their relationship, they may spend more time together, practice relaxation techniques together, or make time to talk openly and honestly with each other. If the parent-teen relationship feels uneasy or tense, strengthening the relationship can help a teen feel safe and more secure, which in turn can ease their anxiety.
Encourage your teen to practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation can create a psychological state that can invite solutions you might not have otherwise thought of. When the mind and body are relaxed, inner resources are more easily accessible. In this state, teens might see their situation differently. Types of relaxation techniques include yoga, meditation, and conscious breathing.
Encourage your teen to exercise. Exercise is essential for managing stress. It can stimulate positive moods, feed the body with energy, and keep both the mind and the body healthy. Giving the body what it needs to stay healthy is also an important aspect to managing anxiety. A teen who exercises on a regular basis may find that they have an outlet for relieving their stress and expressing their anxiety.
Make time for creativity. Another great outlet for anxiety is painting, drawing, journaling, or dancing. When a teen can be creative, they have an opportunity to express what might be causing them stress and anxiety. Creativity is a healing outlet for expressing emotions that some teens may not have words for.
These are suggestions for parents to encourage in their teens so that teens can feel less anxious and more at ease throughout their day.