Dealing with teen anxiety was literally the most horrific thing I have ever had to experience in my entire life. When I was in middle school I had some pretty bad anxiety issues that caused me to have panic attacks. IN addition to attending a pretty intense school curriculum, I was a total try-hard when it came to wanting to fit in with the crowd. I was able to pull it off for a while, but I realized, I was so consumed with trying to be one of the popular girls, that I wasn’t focusing on my health.
I would wake up an hour early for school trying on five different outfits, looking in the mirror, hating myself, and settling on something I thought looked decent. I gave into a lot of peer pressure at an early age and came home from school everyday wondering why it took so much just to be known as “popular”. I hated all of my “friends” because all they did was talk trash about other girls and drool over boys 24/7. I pretended I liked it and joined in, even though I wanted so desperately to talk about the newest Halo game or movie that came out. I wanted to have cool and funny conversations like “have you ever cried in public?” or “how do you feel about anchovies on you’re a pizza?”
In the meantime, I still had a ton of school work to do, and sometimes I put it off to go hang out or go to a party because I didn’t want to risk looking like a chump in front of my “awesome” new “friends”. So my grades were dropping and my so called social life still didn’t make me happy.
On top of all of this, my parents were constantly fighting every time I got home from school; so one day I just broke down crying! This was not a melodramatic meltdown. If you are someone who suffers from stress or anxiety, your problems feel twice as bad. I wasn’t happy with myself; I felt like I could never look like the girls I hung around; I didn’t feel good enough for the boys I talked to or had crushes on; I felt my grades would never be good enough; and my family life was just going in a downward spiral. My mom told asked the usual adult questions they ask when they feel like you’re having a “melodramatic meltdown.” Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating right? Have you talked to your “friends” about it? Neither my parents nor my “friends” were able to help me. I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I stopped hanging out with the “in crowd”, dressed, talked, and acted the way I wanted to act; hung out with every single clique throughout my middle and high school years so that I wasn’t subjected to just one clique; completed every project I was given in school; and decided to only develop close friendships with three people that I am still close to this very day. You guys probably think I must have skipped half the story because went from dealing with horrible anxiety issues with seemingly no help, to not caring what anyone thought about me and doing my own thing. Well, it was no walk in the park, but I figured out a few ways to cope with my stress and anxiety throughout my middle and high school life and it completely changed me as a person. If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety or you’re someone who just gets super stressed out by being a teen, what I’m about to share with you will change your life too. These are the top six things that helped me get over my anxiety.
Social Media Is Literally Murdering Your Self Esteem
I know you guys can’t live without Facebook or Instagram, but let’s be real. It’s killing your self-esteem! I read somewhere not too long ago that if you’re dealing with stress or anxiety, take your mind off it by going on social media. I was SHOCKED. I cannot stress how big of a no-no this is. Social media can actually be very bad for your stress level. There have been countless studies showing that social media actually creates high-levels of stress in teens.
If you think about it, is it hard to see why that may be the main cause of your anxiety or stress? You see a photo-shopped picture of a girl or boy in your school, and you think to yourself, “Man, I wish I could be like him/her.” There’s one blow to your self esteem. Now if you scroll through Instagram on your phone throughout most of the day, you know you’re going to see pictures of more and more people in your school trying to look their best for that perfect shot. You may start to think you need to look absolutely perfect too. How about Facebook? I remember every time I would go on Facebook, I would always see someone posting a status about the newest drama going on in school. Things like this can really mess with your brain and stress you out as well as give you more anxiety.
So what’s the solution? Simple, and quite obvious. If you’re someone who is constantly checking your phone, try to limit how many times you’re allowed to look at your phone a day. Get into the habit of picking different times you want to check in on the latest status post or picture. Once you start to develop a habit of checking your phone a certain number of times a day, you may be able to get it down to three or even one time a day! I’ve actually gotten to the point where I have gone weeks, even months before I actually use any of my social media sites. In fact, I completely stopped using Facebook, and Instagram is really not even on my radar at all anymore. I’m still pretty obsessed with Twitter, but honestly, getting off all of these social media sites has actually freed up time in my life to plan things with friends and actually go places instead of seeing a picture of it on Insta.
Bro, Do You Even Yoga?
Yoga is literally my favorite thing of all time. Especially when I was in high school. Whenever I would think about someone that really got me mad at school that day or my parents constant bickering, I would go in my room, close my door, light some candles, dim my lights, and have a little yoga date with myself. Giving myself time to breathe and meditate was definitely something I needed and absolutely loved. Doing yoga should be one of your first go-to’s if you really need to just calm down and relax. If you really focus on your breathing and poses, this works like a charm.
One of the best things you can do for yourself that not many people will tell you is that you absolutely need to treat yourself! You may feel like the whole world is against you and the amount of things that are going on in your life is literally piling up on your shoulders and you can’t take much more. A way to relieve that unneeded weight on you is to do something fun just for you and no one else. It can be something as simple as painting your nails while binge-watching The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad (my top two personal choices at the moment), or it could be something extravagant like a spa day complete with a facial and relaxing massage. You would not believe how many spa and binge-watching days I took in high school. But that’s the point!
Don’t forget that you need start pleasing yourself instead of everyone else around you! In a world where we try to look our best mainly for other people, we need that time for ourselves to remember how special we are. Trust me, if we lived in a world where girls looked as good as they wanted to without judgment from anyone else, we would have a lot more girls walking around in sweatpants and a messy bun literally every single day. I know I would! And for guys, you can take spa days and binge watching days too you know! Just maybe refrain from painting your nails unless you can rock a french mani!
Scream “No” From The Rooftops
I went through a period when I was obsessed with being cool where I would always say yes to everything. The word no was just not in my vocabulary. I would say yes to helping plan parties, helping people work on a project, going out with people on school nights, and participating in every school event. It got to the point where I felt so overwhelmed and I was barely able to keep track of what I had to do on what days. I think the best tip I could give anyone is something that is easy to say but harder to put into action. It’s okay to say no. You don’t have to constantly worry about what people will think of you if you don’t participate in everything that they do. You have to be confident that no matter what, even if you say no all the time, they’ll still be your friends. And if they don’t, then they must not have been your real friend after all. I remember if you didn’t do certain things with the group, they would call you a square or a shut-in. While it may be hard to hear, people probably will think the same thing of you sometimes. But like my dad always used to tell me: “Everywhere you go, no matter what you do, there will always be somebody, somewhere, who just really hates your guts.” You can’t expect everyone to like you all the time. I guess realizing that is part of growing up. You have to be aware that people could still talk about you, but you should just let them talk. They weren’t you’re true friends in the first place, so why waste time saying yes to them anyways?
Have A Tea Party
I used to drink “Irish Breakfast Tea” ever since I was a little girl. Since my mother is Irish, I honestly didn’t know of any other tea except for ice tea for a long time. I thought Irish tea was the traditional tea that everyone drank. But I was dead wrong. I remember when I told my friend I was making tea and then I added milk to it, she was completely disgusted, and I had no idea why. She explained to me that apparently, American tea is usually just made with sugar and honey, and you wouldn’t dare put milk into it. This lead me to my discovery and infatuation with herbal teas. This actually really helped with my stress and anxiety so much, that when I combined this with my regular yoga routine, it was like some sort of crazy miracle worker. Even if I was just stressed out the night before a test, I would drink herbal tea to calm my nerves while I studied late into the night.
Bringing tea to school was actually my thing all throughout my four years of high school. I even would bring in a big pitcher and a few Styrofoam cups for my homeroom class. My teacher actually had a microwave in her room and she would even grab a cup! It was especially popular when it was time for mid-terms or final exams every year. Since everyone knew that the tea was meant to be soothing and relaxing, people hounded me everyday the week before the tests, reminding me to bring the tea. And it turned out it really worked for everyone!
People said that it really helped calm them down and focus more! So it actually turned into a thing where I would bring my tea every year with cookies in time for mid-terms and exams, and people from different homerooms would come in for a cup like I was a Starbucks barista. Every year I had people telling me how much it helped them with their exam when they were freaking out. My favorite herbal teas that you should try are:
*Passionflower (use only if you’re stressed or have anxiety at night or if you can’t sleep, this stuff is strong!)
Read A Dope Book
Last but of course not least, reading. I can’t even begin to tell you all the books that have helped me overcome my anxiety. Reading has helped me so, so much. I’m not just talking about those books that teach you how to get over your anxiety and stress. I’m talking about the books that deal with actual people that have to cope with anxiety on daily basis. I wanted to know someone that was going through what I was going through and hear their story. Even though they are fictional stories, they still helped me connect with the characters on an intimate level where I totally understood what they were going through and I knew that I wasn’t alone in the world. I highly suggest reading some great works of fiction about people working through anxiety and stress. If you don’t know where to get started, here’s a pretty lengthy list of books that I’ve read myself to get you started:
*Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
*Waiting For Paint To Dry by Lia Mack
*Breakfast With Buddha by Roland Merullo
*Kaylee: The “What If” Game by Christine Dzidrums
*Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
*Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (my favorite #1)
*The Pause by John Larkin (my favorite #2)
*I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach
*We’re All Mad Here by Leigh Raines (my favorite #3!)
I think speaking from experience as a teen not too long ago and basically still being a teen (I’m only 19 guys!), it feels better hearing this stuff from someone close to your age rather than from your parents or from fake friends. Life is filled with challenges and obstacles, and everyone is always judgmental, and sometimes that can be pretty scary. But if you follow these pretty simple and fun steps, it will lead you on the path to success in your anxiety free life. Doing all of these things really helped me and made my life 100% easier. This isn’t to say that I don’t ever have to deal with my anxiety issues, but I can say that whenever they do arise, I know exactly how to handle them, and now you do too!
So what do you guys think? Do these six simple steps sound good to you? Did I help you out in your anxiety free journey? Have you ever read any of the books I mentioned? Do you deal with stress or anxiety issues? Leave your comments, questions, and answers down below!
This is a guest post by Megan Dean who is an up-and-coming blogger who is currently writing exclusively for the MECKids.