Stress & Anxiety In Teens and Young People – Mental Health Support from Natalie Hunt Mental Health Training
Stress and worry are entirely normal and part of life. We have an inbuilt alarm system, known as the flight/fight/freeze response, which has kept us safe from threat and danger for millennia. A small amount of stress is good for us – it keeps us motivated and helps us to give our best performance. BUT our existence in the modern world means that we are engaging our ‘FFF’ stress response a lot of the time, over situations that are not threatening or dangerous. During this global pandemic, it is easy to feel isolated and trapped with our own negative thoughts.
Too much stress and worrying is bad for our physical and mental health. Anxiety, something that is often misunderstood and underestimated, is a debilitating mental illness that results from too much stress and worry.
If you think that you might be suffering with Anxiety, it is important to discuss it with your GP.
Below are some ideas and resources for coping strategies if you are feeling stressed and anxious.
• ‘Complete the cycle’ – as explained by Emily and Amelia Nagoski in ‘Burnout’ amazon.co.uk/Burnout-secret-solving-stress-cycle/dp/1785042076 we can often see wild animals literally shake off their stress. Our modern existence means that we no longer feel the relief after running away from a bear, so we need to find ways to ‘complete the cycle’ of stress – effective ways to do this include exercising, breathing, socialising and having a creative outlet (such as listening to or playing music). Aim to do something each day to rid your body of stress hormones.
• What I can control vs what I can’t control – write down everything that is causing you stress or anxiety and take time to divide everything into two lists – things you can’t control and things you can. For the worries you can’t control (and the lockdown has created a LOT of these, like when is ‘normal’ going to resume and what will ‘normal’ look like?), it is worth exploring your negative thought patterns.
For the worries you can control, you can try problem solving. Both of these methods are explained with worksheets in the module 6 Take Action Workbook at studentsagainstdepression.org/self-help/ – I highly recommend these module workbooks; they are accessible for anyone, not just for those who are struggling with depression or anxiety.
• Monitor your use of technology – screens don’t have to negatively impact our lives, but it is important to be aware of when and how we use screens and how social media can make us feel.
Try reducing/limiting your screen time and avoid anything that exacerbates your anxiety or negative feelings. Instead, try using some of the calming apps to reduce stress, such as Headspace or Calm Oxford Health have produced a helpful video on Anxiety for young people, which can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNvKs_l-3kkThe following organisations have excellent resources on Anxiety for young people and parents: www.anxietyuk.co.uk www.youngminds.org.ukFor more information or questions about this topic or any others mentioned, please get in touch.