Many people in their life will experience some form of anxiety or nerves- it’s a fact of life. Whether it’s stage fright, being nervous about asking somebody out, or feeling jittery about your first job interview, everybody feels it. However, there are people who will experience anxiety in a whole new way- in the form of a disorder.
Around 20% of people in Canada will, at some point in their lives, experience a mental illness, and about 5% will have a form of anxiety disorder that will cause impairment (as according to cmha.ca).
What many people suffering from anxiety do not know, however, is that they are not alone. There are many, many people who suffer the way they do every day, but so many remain silent about it. This is especially true in Canadian north, where many see mental health as something to stay silent about. Something that shouldn’t be spoken of, and should be kept private.
Coping with anxiety can be hard, especially if you don’t know how to, or don’t have any sort of a support system. It is especially hard for the teens affected by it. I should know, as just last year I was diagnosed with anxiety myself.
Of course, at first I didn’t really want to accept it. All my life, I’d just thought I was a little ‘shy’, that it was something I could easily get over if I tried. That turned out to not be the case, though, as when I was fourteen, I learnt that I wasn’t just simply shy- I had a mental illness.
Being a teen with a mental illness, like anxiety, can be a struggle. Every day you have to get up and go to school, doing numerous things that can cause anxiety to spring up- interacting with people you don’t know well, doing presentations for a class of over 20+ people, working in groups. Everyday life can be a series of hurdles you have to force yourself to jump over, no matter how hard it is.
Though just everyday activities can seem like a challenge, there are numerous ways to cope, and everybody has their own way. A good way to cope with anxiety is to find a method that works for you.
For me, I find that I use many different ways to keep anxiety in check- listening to relaxing music, meditation, and anxiety help apps are some of my favourite ways to work through it.
For all those who find their phone to be one of their best friends, I have good news. There are many, many free apps one can download to their mobile device that will not only give you tips on how to cope, but will also provide little exercises and even have kits that will keep track of how you cope and what works best for you. The ones I have tried and find to be the most useful are MindShift and SAM. They are both free anxiety help apps that can easily be found and installed on the appstore.
MindShift– This app has many useful things to do. It has inspirational quotes, a way for checking and recording your own anxiety, and a system that guides you through creating your own personal plan for dealing with a situation that causes you anxiety. Whether the situation be anxiety before a test, or dealing with new people, it has ways for you to deal, and a way for you to make a plan.
SAM- SAM is another free anxiety-help app. SAM is simple and easy to use, and I have found it to be very helpful. SAM also has a way of recording your anxiety, and it even has extra features in it that can be used in overwhelming situations to calm yourself down. My favourite of them is the ‘Calm breathing’ exercise, where it helps you to breathe slowly and naturally, a successful way to calm one down during an anxiety attack.
For those who aren’t as tech savvy or prefer ways other than technology to calm down- don’t worry, there are ways for you, too. Any sort of relaxing activity can help- meditation, yoga, eating healthy. They all help to improve mood and to relax your body’s systems. There are more ways, however, which I have put into a helpful list:
- Go to http://thisissand.com, the colors are pretty and the sound is calming.
- Listen to classical music (not the favourite music genre of teens everywhere, but it’s calming and relaxing)
- Paint pictures of the sky
- Write “I am okay” in rainbow repeatedly
- Wrap a fluffy blanket around yourself, and snuggle with it. Maybe try running the blanket through your drier first, because when you pull it out it will be more warm and soft.
- Listen to nature and ambient sounds
- Turn off all the lights in your room and listen to your breathing (try keeping track of your breathing if you’re feeling anxious)
- Drink something hot- tea, warm milk, coffee, hot chocolate, anything
- Listen to feel good songs- songs that no matter the day or time give you a feeling of happiness or being calm
- Paint the sunset, or the colors in it
- Create an intricate design of swirls
- Doodle on your arms in non-toxic washable marker
- Write down the best things about you on a bright sheet of paper and in a bright marker or pencil crayon
- Make a list of things that make you happy
- Play with a friendly or cuddly animal
- Type out everything negative you feel in a pretty font, then delete the file, or write them down on a piece of paper and rip it up
- Try to starting learning a new language
- Pretend to be playing an instrument- mimic pressing the keys of a piano, the strumming of a guitar
- Study a different culture in the world
- Learn about a foreign country’s history
- Hum loudly, and don’t care who hears
- Find music that makes you feel good and turn it into a playlist
- Organize your dvds, cds or books- whatever needs organizing
- Clean a room
- Take a hot shower or bath, bubbles are recommended but not necessary.
- If it’s night, stare out the window and count how many stars you can see. Make a wish on a few of them.
- Eat the sweetest food you can find
- Then eat the healthiest food you can find
- Put something cold on your forehead, and something warm on the rest of your body (ex: a warm blanket with a cold towel on your forehead)
- Chew on gum, taffy or some other chewable substance
- Breathe in and out through a straw, or blow bubbles in a drink
- Make a smoothie with all your favorite fruits in it
- Play an instrument, or sing, or dance
- Make an extensive list of all the people you love, and why you love them and the best things about them
- Send it to them later, if you feel like it
- Tell somebody you love them
- Force yourself to smile. No matter how hard or fake it is, smile. As wide as possible.
- Look at funny and cute things of cats- they help, seriously
- Go onto a good joke site and read as many jokes as possible until you laugh
- Read quotes about life, about peace, about life.
- Make up a song with lyrics meaningful to you
- Sleep. Sleep for a long time, in short intervals- whatever. Just sleep.
- Talk to somebody you love a lot. Not about anything in particular- just about anything. It helps.
- Watch disney movies
- Listen to disney music
- Watch a movie that makes you feel good or that you liked to watch when you were little
- Make a root beer float
- Eat apple pie, with butterscotch icecream (It’s yummy!)
- Eat your favourite food
- Snuggle with a stuffed animal
- Learn about something that’s always interested you, but you never took the time to look up
- Personalize your notebooks (scribble on the cover, put stickers on the pages, color the lines in with colored pen, etc.)
- Listen to your favorite band or musician, or your favorite song
- Sew something, try knitting
- Compliment somebody else
- Make somebody else happy
- Make a stranger smile
- Lay down and close your eyes- don’t need to sleep, just to rest
- Find blogs about happy things
- Read happy stories
- Read a romantic story
- Watch a romantic movie or series
- Watch your favorite episode of your favorite TV series
- Nerd out about a favorite book or comic- or anything, really
- Do ANYTHING that makes you happy, basically.
Coping with anxiety can be hard- really, coping with any mental illness can be a struggle, but you have to remember that no matter what, you aren’t alone. There are steps you can take to make it easier- whether it be any of the methods above, or one you come up with on your own, there are ways. You just need to find one that works for you.
Until next time!