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Teenage Anxiety

Anxiety is your brain trying to protect you

Things Every Teen Should Know About Their Anxiety

Paraphrased/inspired from an excellent article by Hey Sigmund


1. Anxiety has nothing to do with being strong, courageous, or your worth as a person.


2. Sometimes anxiety drops in for no reason at all...our brain thinks there is a danger when no actual danger exists.


3. Anxiety is what you are feeling, not who you are.


4. Anxiety is SUPER common.


5. Anxiety is your brain trying to protect you. Your brain loves keeping you alive. It's one of your brain's favorite things to do.

Daily Reminder

What Does Anxiety Look Like


Anxiety is only a problem if it's causing you a problem. If you feel and think these things but are as happy as a clam, then don't let this list stress you out.


Negative Thoughts

What-ifs, thoughts about being judged or embarrassed, excessive worry, intrusive thoughts when trying to fall asleep


Emotions

Fearful, worried, overwhelmed, out of control.

Dread, as though something bad is going to happen.

Panic that seems to come from nowhere.
Feeling separate to your physical self or your surroundings.


Physical

Racing heart.
Tightening in the chest
Butterflies in the stomach.
Tense muscles.
Shaking hands.
Feeling as though you’re going to vomit.
Dizzy or light-headed.
Feeling as though you want to burst into tears.
Feeling angry.

...these are all caused by neurochemical surges in your brain due to fight or flight. Again, your brain trying its best to protect you, but instead being an overprotective parent.


Behaviors

Skin picking.
Pulling out hair.
Nail biting.
Avoidance of people or situations.
Feel compelled to perform certain habits or rituals.

Yoga is an excellent movement and breathing practice

Dealing With Your Anxiety


Understand It

Anxiety happens because a part of your brain (the amygdala) thinks there might be something it needs to protect you from. When this happens, it surges your body with a mix of neurochemicals (including oxygen, hormones and adrenaline), designed to make you stronger, faster, more alert and more powerful so you can fight for your life or run for it. This is the fight or flight response. It’s normal and healthy and it’s in everyone. In people with anxiety, it’s just a little quicker to activate.

When there’s nothing to flee or nothing to fight, there’s nothing to burn the neurochemical fuel that is surging through you. The fuel builds up and that’s why anxiety feels the way it does.


Mindfulness

A mountain of studies have shown that mindfulness can be a little bit magic in strengthening the brain against anxiety. Mindfulness changes the brain the way exercise changes our body – but without the sweating and panting. 

How?

...by strengthening the connections between the amygdala (the key player in anxiety) and the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that can calm big emotions).

...by teaching the brain to stay in the present. Anxiety is driven by a brain that has been cast into the future.


Exercise and Movement

This includes ALL exercise and movement; walking, yoga, stretches, etc. How does it help?

The brain has a neurochemical, GABA, which is the brain’s calm down chemical. Exercise is a really effective way to get the GABA in the brain to the right levels.


Breathe. Just Breathe. 

But Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More!!

Anxiety can feel like such a gangster at times, it can be hard to believe that something as simple and as normal as breathing can out-muscle it – but it can. Here’s why. Strong, deep breathing initiates the relaxation response. Because it’s an automatic response, you don’t need to believe it works, it just will – but you do have to initiate it.

To make strong deep breathing easier for your brain to access, practice it a couple of times a day when you’re calm.


Food

An unhappy belly can make an unhappy brain. Researchers are still investigating, but some evidence shows that if you eat too much processed food or too much sugar (or not enough good food) it can knock out the balance of good bacteria in your gut. This can upset the balance of everything and heavily influence your mood by sending funky messages back to your brain. Eating unprocessed, healthy food, and food that contains good bacteria (such as yogurt) can help to balance things out inside your gut and put things back on track.


Love Yourself

At adolescence, your brain is exploding with growth, and your social thoughts are like live wires. Practice self care and positive self talk every single day.

SEL Journal Activity

Journal Activity


1. In your SEL Journal, write these three things:

a) 3 things YOU feel in your body when you are anxious

b) 3 things you will do the next time you are anxious

c) One positive self-talk statement you can say to yourself each day

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