I was talking to a high school teacher not long ago who told me that research shows teenagers are suffering from increased anxiety for a whole variety of reasons. Teachers try to be understanding of their stress but at the same time, they want to help kids appreciate that sometimes anxiety can be good for them.
1) Anxiety can help you feel motivated and inspired when you face challenges. Athletes who are a little anxious perform better. Anxiety can help you put extra effort into tasks and move you towards a goal.
2) Anxiety can be a warning sign that you need to make changes in your life. Do you need to get more sleep, get more exercise, handle your finances more responsibly or eat in a healthier way?
3) Anxiety can help you become more empathetic towards friends and family members who are also facing challenges.
Knowing that stress and anxiety can sometimes be a positive thing means teachers are looking for ways to help kids deal with it. A variety of education and psychology articles offer good ideas.
- Find someone to talk to about your feelings.
- Journal or write about your anxiety to help you explore what may be triggering it.
- Volunteer. Reach out to help others instead of focusing on your anxiety.
- Develop an attitude of gratitude and find concrete ways to express it.
- Learn to emphasize the process or the experience more than the product or the final goal.
- Make meditation and exercise a regular part of your day.
- Go outside and connect with nature.
Anxiety isn’t just a challenge for teens these days. An article in Live Science says that in the past we thought anxiety declined with age. Mental health experts are finding that struggles with anxiety in seniors may have been underestimated. Interestingly the same things that can help teens deal with anxiety can help their grandparents’ generation deal with it too. Seniors who volunteer, meditate, get exercise, connect with nature, express gratitude, journal and build relationships with others will also ease their anxiety.
No matter what our age, a little anxiety can be good for us and there are ways we can handle it so our lives become more rewarding, meaningful and peaceful.