How to Deal with Anxiety as a Teen
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a tense, nervous, or uneasy feeling about something unclear or an intimidating event.
According to the National Institute of Health, one in three teenagers will experience an anxiety disorder.
Signs of anxiety include fearsome and worrying thoughts, heart racing, sweaty palms, and irritability.
Search me, oh God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Why Do Teens Get Anxious?
1. Peer Pressure
Teens are put under performance expectations when it comes to school, maintaining good grades, finding the right career path, and other things.
It could be overwhelming and daunting when there’s a high expectation to succeed.
Teens often compare themselves to unrealistic standards.
When I was in high school I did not know what I wanted to do career-wise.
We are forced to pick a path in a short amount of time that will affect the rest of our lives.
Adults now are still trying to figure out their purpose and what they are meant to do.
You don’t even really know yourself as a teenager so how are you expected to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life?
This pressure can place fear about the unexpected future.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2. Social Media
Social media creates an unrealistic perception of people’s lives.
It makes us feel like we are not doing well because people are only posting highlights.
This can lead to worrying about what you’re not doing and what you should be doing.
Social media is only a small percentage of someone’s life and is sometimes thwarted.
Regain your focus by concentrating on what God has planned for your life.
You do not have to fear once you realize that God already has a plan for you and is more than willing to walk you through it.
All you have to do is pursue Him.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
3. Scary World
Teenagers are faced with everyday real dangers such as school shootings, bullies, personal problems at home, and more.
We live in a fallen world so scary things are bound to happen.
However, we can’t hide under a rock and live in crippling fear.
Our emotions are normal and they relay messages to our brain.
The purpose of anxiety is a signal to the brain of a potential threat.
This helps us to be more alert and focused.
Too much anxiety can hinder our ability to manage everyday life situations.
How to Cope
The purpose is not to somehow magically get rid of anxiety once and for all because at the end of the day we are human.
The purpose is to help you manage it.
Whenever you feel anxiety rising up, it should be your signal to invite God into the situation, not to panic.
If you have time to worry, you have time to pray.
2. Use Proper Reasoning
I used to always fear getting rear-ended whenever I was in this particular turning lane on the highway.
The cars zooming past me at 80 to 90 mph made my heart race.
I discovered the root cause of my anxiety was because I was almost rear-ended on the beltway and the vehicle behind me made a last split-second decision to get on the shoulder among other accidents.
Trauma has a way to cause lasting effects in your life if you allow it.
I had to reason with myself that the chances of me actually being rear-ended in this lane are slim to none.
I had to continuously give my anxiety to God whenever I felt it rising.
It even made me feel more comfortable to pray for his protection over me whenever I drove.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
I soon came to realize that excessive anxiety does not serve me, but it hinders me.
There is no point in worrying because God is in control of all circumstances. He causes everything to work together for the good.
3. Anxiety Jar
Make an anxiety jar and label it “Anxieties and Worries”.
This will be your physical coping mechanism to dealing with anxiety.
Take some scrap paper and write down your anxiety.
Put it in the jar.
Sometimes we need to write down what we are worrying about on paper to release it.
Think of it as you giving this anxiety and worry to God.
Throughout the day be intentional about laying that anxiety down.
If the same anxious thought comes up, tell yourself already gave that anxiety to God.
Cast it down every time.
After some time has passed, review your jar and write down in a journal how God responded to the situation.
You’ll learn that you had nothing to fear after all.
Do not let anxiety rob you from living how God intended you to live.