Reducing Anxiety in Teens

A bucket full of stress

The charity Anxiety UK says:

"One way of thinking about your anxiety is to imagine your stress levels as being like a bucket of water. If we keep adding stressors to the bucket (even tiny ones like the school run or commuting to work), over time it fills up until one day it overflows."

How does this apply to teens?

If we apply this to our teens we can see how those explosions, or implosions, that seem to come out of the blue might not be so unexpected. We ask our teens to organize themselves and to meet endless small deadlines every week with incredible consequences if they fail. Can you imagine if your workplace imposed sanctions for every minute you were late for a meeting, or sent a message to your loved ones if you missed a work deadline, or kept a record if you needed to borrow a pen..? Yet, we know all of these to be normal parts of a school day and it isn't much better once you get to post-16 education or training.

Teens get a lot of pressure

For some kids, these constant smaller stresses seem to be water off a duck's back. We've all seen people for whom a tiny bit more effort to perform would be beneficial. That's why schools keep doing it after all! But for many teens this constant requirement to deliver can only be a huge anxiety. It is like a cascade into the bucket of stress.

There's a hole in my bucket!

"What we need is a leaky bucket with lots of holes in to reduce overall stress levels." Anxiety UK

Releasing Stress

When someone is collecting stresses and worries they need to find a way to release them. Anxiety UK calls that putting holes into your bucket of stress! Whatever helps us to feel happy and relaxed is a way to get that stress leaking away. Whether it's dance, music, sport, art, craft or being with friends that works. Let's try to remember that those downtime activities are both important and beneficial.

Exercise to release stress

Our bodies are designed for us to do something in response to a stressor. Our caveman ancestors would have needed to get moving quickly, so they needed adrenaline to help them. Adrenaline is sometimes called the 'fight or flight' response to a perceived threat, but equally for our caveman ancestors there could have been a requirement to hunt down today's dinner. We may no longer be responding to a possible sabre-tooth tiger attack, but whatever the cause of our adrenaline response, everyone still feels better if they allow their bodies to use up that adrenaline with some form of physical activity. So exercise is important in its own right as a way to burn off the adrenaline that comes from stress. If your exercise of choice is also something that you enjoy doing - then that's a win win!

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