Anxiety is a common problem for teenagers. Do you know what to do?
Let’s face it. High school has never been easy. For some kids in today’s world, it can be outright debilitating.
There is enormous pressure on our kids to take a rigorous course load in order to get into college. Sports and activities are now like full-time jobs. Social media is constantly in their face telling them to do more and be more. Peer pressure surrounds them at every juncture.
You may also want to read: 5 Ways to Prevent High School Burnout
Their bodies are changing and their minds are developing. They are trying to figure out dating and busy schedules and life skills. They desperately want to fit in while also trying to figure out their place.
Not to mention that the world is in disarray, and our kids lie in the middle of competing interests without much control of their own destinies.
It’s no wonder that teenagers today have more anxiety and depression than at any time in history. In fact, according to the Mental Health America, 36% of young girls report being extremely anxious daily and an estimated 12.8 percent of adolescents in the U.S.have experienced at least one episode of major depression
If you think that there could be a chance that their mental health is at risk, then it’s time for a conversation. But where do you start? Here’s a great post that can guide you through how to broach the subject: How to Talk to Your Teen About Anxiety and Stress.
Anxiety Symptoms in Teens
You know too well if you have teens that they are just naturally prone to mood swings and some bizarre behavior. Part of that is just being a teenager. So, how can you tell if it is something more and your teen is experiencing real anxiety symptoms?
Here are a few signs to look for:
- Racing Heart or Panic
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Nightmares or Sudden Fears They Never Expressed Before
- Negative Thoughts That Spin Out Of Control
- Withdrawing From Family and Friends
- Restlessness and Irritability
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Obsessive Behaviors Like Nail Biting, Skin Picking or Even Pulling Out Their Hair
- Crying For What Seems Like No Reason
How Parents Can Help
Sometimes we simply need to be there to support our teens when they get overwhelmed. It’s crucial that we keep an eye out for things going on beyond just the everyday pressures of teen life and model behaviors that teach them how to deal with the stress of everyday life. A few things parents can do to help teens limit their anxiety include:
- Eat a healthy diet. Did you know certain foods can exacerbate stress? Too much sugar, caffeine, or other by-products can make our energy levels soar and make it feel like our anxiety is worse. When kids live on Code Red Mountain Dew and Takis, their stress and agitation can increase exponentially without them even realizing it. While teens should be doing some of their own meal-planning and cooking, try to make sure good choices are available and sit down for a meal together whenever possible.
- Keep a good sleep schedule. I know, I know, teens like to stay up late and sleep in later, but when you are dealing with anxiety, a sleep schedule can be your best friend. This is not a fun part of parenting teens, but try to enforce some boundaries like no phones in the bedroom after a certain time, curfews on school nights, and a regular wake up time on the weekends.
- Exercise regularly and get some outside time. Between school, jobs, volunteering, and scrolling social media, some teens can go days without seeing daylight. Encourage your teen to walk the dog, assign a few outside chores, or require some outdoor activity where your kid will have to move and get some vitamin D.
- Limit screen time. Again, we know this is hard, but try to ensure that your child isn’t going from their laptop to their phone to their video game back to their phone for hours each day. Even small breaks can alleviate some anxity.
- Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques. When teens get stressed, it’s important for them to learn how to bring their pulse back down to normal and manage their anxiety (when possible.)
- Learn practical coping skills, such as breakinga large task into smaller, more attainable tasks or writing lists to show what needs to be done.
- Consider therapy. Many parents want to try to help guide their teens through anxiety, but you just may not be armed with the proper tools or knowledge. Having a therapist that specializes in teen anxiety is a great person to add to your team while helping guide your anxious teen forward in life. A therapist will help your teen better identify the root cause of their anxiety and will teach teach them coping mechanisms as well as evaluate whether medication might be needed.
You may also want to read this post: Teen Anxiety – 5 Ways To Help Your Teen Cope
Gifts for the Anxious Teen
Disclosure: We earn commissions (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.
While the best gifts we can give our teens are intangible, like our time, understanding and compassion, there are a lot of products that are on the market right now that can help our kids manage their stress. While these are great for special occasions, most are perfect for a pick-me-up for a teen who is going through a rough time.
*Note, these gifts do not take the place of professional counseling. They are simply an opportunity to give the anxious teen in your life a little boost!
Worry Rings: We love that these rings help with anxiety, are functional, and look cute! The beads effortlessly slide over the band as you move them back and forth; providing pleasing and distracting sensations that can prevent anxiety attacks. They may also help put an end to pesky nail-biting habits. The wearer simply manipulates the beads to administer a sense of serenity and peace. The spinner rings release a relaxing and calming effect on the body. Also known as ‘Worry Rings’, they have been used in traditional Tibetan meditation.
Silver Adjustable Fidget Rings, Anxiety Relief ring, Anti-worry Bead Rings Spinner Ring Gift for Women Men Girls925 Silver Anti-Anxiety Ring – Fidget Spinner Ring – Anxiety Ring Spinner – Beaded Ring – Worry Ring – Premium 925 Silver – Silver or Gold, For Men & Women…CASSIECA 3 PCS Stainless Steel Fidget Spinner Rings for Women Mens Cool Rotatable Calming Worry Meditation Ring Set Relieving Anxiety StressBoho-Magic 925 Sterling Silver Spinner Sun and Moon Ring for Women Fidget Anxiety Relief Wide Band (8)Boho-Magic 925 Sterling Silver Band Rings for Women Wide Wrap Statement Ring (7)
Journals and Workbooks: Writing your worries down is a great first step in conquering them. There are so many great journals and workbooks available right now to help teens combat anxiety and stress. Here are a few of our favorites:
My Anxiety Shit Anxiety Worksheets & Journal: Anxiety Workbook, A Guided Trigger Tracker Journal, Anxiety Diary, Mood Trackers with Anxiety Symptom,Funny Anxiety Journal for TeensAnger Management Workbook for Teens: Depression and Anxiety Relief Journal: Let That Sh T GoLet That Shit Go My Unicorn Anxiety Journal: Funny Anxiety Workbook Journal For Teens, Mental Health Guided Journal For Self-Reflection, Mental Health … Thoughtful Gifts For Teens With AnxietyMood Tracker Diary: Mental Health journal For Teens – Track Mood, Ease Anxiety, Set Goals, Promote Positive Thinking & Gratitude.Anxiety Relief Journal for Teens: Guided Exercises to Help You Manage Anxiety, Ease Stress, and Find CalmAnxiety Journal for Teens – A 12-Week Anxiety Journal and Self Care Journal for Teens: An Anxiety Journal for Teens with Prompts; Guided Stress Relief … Practice Positive Thinking, and MoreConquer Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Find Peace from Worry, Panic, Fear, and PhobiasThe Healthy Coping Colouring Book and Journal: Creative Activities to Help Manage Stress, Anxiety and Other Big FeelingsAnxiety Journal For Teens: A Fun Notebook for Teens with Prompts to Track Your AnxietyMindfulness for Teens in 10 Minutes a Day: Exercises to Feel Calm, Stay Focused & Be Your Best SelfThe Teen Girl’s Anxiety Survival Guide: Ten Ways to Conquer Anxiety and Feel Your Best (The Instant Help Solutions Series)
Salt and Lava Lamps: A typical way to reduce anxiety is to shift your focus from what you are anxious about to something else. These beautiful, fun lamps can calm your breathing and shift your teen from an anxious episode.
Jellyfish Lava Lamp Multi-Color Changing Aquarium Night Light with 5 Glowing Jellyfish Electric Tank Mood Light Home Office Room Desk Decor Lamp Gift for Kids Men Women for Christmas BirthdayFANHAO USB Himalayan Salt Lamp Healthy Ionizer Air Purifier with 7 Colors Changing Glows LED Bulb and Closed Wood Base 4.7Himalayan Glow Natural Pink Salt Lamp, Crystal Salt Lamp Night Light with (ETL Certified) Brightness Control Dimmer Switch, Wooden Base & Salt Lamps Bulb | 6-8 LBSLED White-Color Changing Pure Himalayan Salt Lamp 7 Inches Tall with USB Adaptor and Wooden Base Himalite Carnival of LightsLava Lite Classic Black Wax/Clear Silver Based Liquid Glass Metal Lava Lamp, New, Classic retro-style lava lamp for home, dorm room, or officeLava the Original 16.3-Inch Silver Base Lamp with Yellow Wax in Purple Liquid
Weighted Blankets and Other Items: It’s been shown over the past decade how much a weighted force can help calm and soothe a person. It’s like a hug you can give to yourself. Weighted blankets work in a way that’s similar to an OT technique called deep touch pressure therapy (DTP). Pressure on the body can increase the release of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter is sometimes called the “happy” chemical because it creates a sense of calm and well-being. Weighted blankets can also help a teen — or anyone for that matter — sleep better. Here are some of our favorite products:
Calming Comfort ThermaComfort Weighted Hot Neck Shoulder Wrap- Deep Pressure Therapy, Herbal Aromatherapy, Comfort Fit Design- 3 lbsZZZhen Weighted Blanket – High Breathability – 48”72” 15LBs – Premium Heavy Blankets – Calm Sleeping for Adult and Kids, Durable Quilts and Quality ConstructionALANSMA Reversible Weighted Blanket for All Season, Luxury Velvet, Warm and Cool, Adult Kids 15Lb Weighted Blanket, Enjoy Sleeping Anywhere(Pink,15Lb)CARING IS COMFORT Weighted Hug Pillow – Soothing Keepsake Throw Pillow with Poetry Tag for GiftingWarmHug Weighted Blanket 17 lbs for Adult, 60
Stress Relievers: Sometimes when teens feel that anxiety creeping in, keeping their hands occupied can help them reduce their stress. Squishy balls, mermaid pillows, and fidget gadgets are a great way for teens to take their minds off their anxiety for a few moments and recenter themselves. We’ve seen a lot of students take the therapy dough or balls to school with them, and many teachers are even encouraging their use in classrooms.
Sensory Stress Balls – Stress Relief Fidget Balls for Kids/Adults to Relax, Anxiety Relief, Decompress, Focus, Squeeze Toys for Autism(4 Pack)JA-RU Stretchy Balls Stress Relief Sand Filled Ball for Kids and Adults (1 Unit Assorted) Hand Therapy Stress Ball Tough Squeeze and Stretch. Sensory Fidget Relaxing Toy. | 5558-1AThe Squeeze Aromatherapy Therapy Dough Stress Ball Made 100% Peppermint Essential OilsAroma Dough Lavender Therapy Dough – Relax Essential Oil Clay Dough – Gluten-Free & Non-Allergenic – Child & Adult Therapy Tools – Reduce Stress and Anxiety – Sensory Fidget Equipment–Clay PuttyFidget Dodecagon –12-Side Fidget Cube Relieves Stress and Anxiety Anti Depression Cube for Children and Adults with ADHD ADD OCD Autism (B3 Blue Sky)GOHEYI Pop Fidget Spinner Toys 4 Pack, Simple Popping Fidget Toy, Pop Fidget Pack, Pop Bubble Sensory Toys Set for Kids, Party Favor Fidget Bulk Pack Toys ADHD Stress Relief Hand Pop Fidget Spinnersleegleri Mermaid Sequins Pillow Case, Reversible Sequin Throw Pillow Cover with Zip,Magic Mermaid Cushion Cover for Chair Couch Bed SofaPlay Tailor Mermaid Throw Pillow with Insert Reversible Sequins Pillow Heart Shape Decorative Cushion(13
At-Home Pampering: Sometimes a bath and a little pampering can go a long way. We particularly love items that are multi-faceted, like the bed of nails bath massager that provide deep pressure, or the aromatic lotions. Teaching our teens self-care is extremely important, so these products can help your kids understand that taking the time to take care of themselves is not only okay but necessary.
Original Bed of Nails ECO Acupressure Mat for Pain and Relaxation, Made with Eco-Friendly MaterialsBodyRestore Shower Steamers (Pack of 15) Gifts for Women and Men – Lavender Essential Oil Scented Aromatherapy Shower Bomb, Nighttime Relaxation & Unwind Shower TabletsWeighted Lavender Eye Mask for Sleeping, Yoga, Dry Eyes, Headache, Migraine Relief – Great Relaxation Gifts for Mom, Dad, Women, Men – Aromatherapy Lavender Eye Pillow GiftHuggaroo Gem Hot & Cold Eye Mask with Lavender Aroma Therapy for Migraine and Tension Headache Relief, Dry Eye Relief, Stye Treatment, Eye CareStress Relief Calming Body Cream Eucalyptus-and-Mint Aromatherapy Body Lotion with Arnica, Coconut Oil Hydrating Natural Extracts Moisturize All Skin Types & Soothe Senses by Pure Relief, 16 Oz.Hot and Cold Therapy Gel Bead Full Facial Mask by FOMI Care | Ice Face Mask for Migraine Headache, Stress Relief | Reduces Eye Puffiness, Dark Circles | Fabric Back (Full Face w/Eye Holes)
If you feel you need immediate help and do not know where to start, you can get recommendations for a local psychologist from sources like your teen’s school counselor, social worker, or family doctor. The APA Psychologist Locator is another useful tool to find vetted and licensed psychologists in your area. We also like this article: Getting Professional Help for Your Anxious Child: When and Where to Find a Psychologist