ANXIETY FEELS LIKE....
- That critical voice that's always nagging you in the back of your mind
- That weight on your chest that makes it hard for you to breathe
- That belief that others don't like you, don't want you around or secretly hate you
- That urge to run away, hide in the corner, avoid eye contact or to stay super duper still and hope that others don't notice you
- That fear that something horrible is about to happen, whether it's failure, loss, danger, rejection or embarrassment
- That shaking, sweating, crying sick feeling
- That thought that cycles through your mind again and again with no end in sight
Anxiety can be a bit of a bully and when your anxious teen is faced with discomfort or difficulty, the natural tendency is often to avoid.
They may want to run away, avoid or procrastinate... because let's face it: Facing your fears is hard work!
In DBT we teach a skill called Opposite Action to help teens learn HEALTHY ways to manage difficulties without making the situation worse.
This means that...
...one day of homework doesn't pile up into a week's worth of overwhelm.
...one bad interaction with friends doesn't lead to arguments and isolation that trigger depression and safety concerns.
...one critical sentence from a parent doesn't lead to big blow ups and days of not speaking to each other.
It's about acknowledging how you feel in the moment, taking a breath and step back and making a CHOICE to effectively manage the situation.
When we're talking anxiety, the following suggestions are helpful when your anxiety or fear is not justified by a legitimately dangerous situation:
Stop avoiding and reassuring. Approach what makes you anxious by being brave AND afraid. Do it over and over and over again.
It's going to feel uncomfortable. Expect it. And do it anyway. It's the only way.
Approach events, places, tasks, activities and people that make you nervous. Take it one step at a time and expose yourself to these difficulties while taking note of how it impacts your thoughts, your emotions and your body sensations.
Make a list of the experiences that make you nervous and place them in an order from least scary to most. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
Do something every day that gives you a sense of control and mastery over your fear. No matter how small it seems, find a way to feel empowered. Engage in activities that make you feel confident. Tell yourself you can do it.
^^ This is all SUPER hard and can often feel overwhelming or make you feel paralyzed without a professional to walk you through it and support the process each step of the way.
If your teen needs help going from anxious and overwhelmed to confident and coping with ease, we've got you covered. Reach out to us for a complimentary parent call to get clarity on the next best steps here: http://creativehealingphilly.com/free-parent-call