When a child or teen experiences anxiety, it can be hard to help them understand why they’re feeling the way they do. Anxiety can manifest in many different ways, have many different causes, and can involve many different symptoms that can affect the mind, body, and soul. When there are physical symptoms of anxiety present, the individual might think there’s something more scary going on, so it’s important to learn what they are and why they show up in young people.
If you have a child or teen in your life who is having issues with the physical aspect of anxiety, there are many ways you can help. Educate your loved one about these issues and why they happen, then research the best ways to help alleviate them or even prevent them. Remind your child that some methods of coping with anxiety do more harm than good, so encourage your child to keep an open line of communication with you. Once the child understands that there is a reasonable explanation behind it, he might be able to cope a bit better with the symptoms.
Here are a few of the best ways to help your child gain control over anxiety.
Understand the science behind it
Anxiety occurs when the brain tells the body that there’s trouble nearby, even if there’s no truth to it. For instance, worrying that getting on a roller coaster will cause bodily harm or even death, or that having a bad cough means you’re going to choke to death in the middle of the night. When the brain sends these messages out, the body reacts in a “fight or flight” response, but because there’s nothing to actually fight or run away from, that response--and all the physical symptoms that come with it--has nowhere to go. The individual may experience a cold sweat, a flushed face, dizziness, racing heart, shaky hands or legs, and/or a nervous stomach. This is because the body is either sending extra energy to those areas or closing them off to prepare for a “fight”.
How to help
One of the best ways to help prevent or lessen an anxiety attack is to train the brain. Just like any other part of the body, the brain will get stronger the more it’s used, so meditation and mindful thinking can greatly improve the chances that the mind will know what to do the next time anxiety rears its ugly head. Meditation, which can be done alone or with yoga, is a great way to focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or future--something an individual living with anxiety knows all about. It can also improve concentration and expand brain cells.
It’s also important to dig a little deeper when it comes to anxiety. What’s behind those feelings? Many kids feel pressured at school to perform well or to live up to some standard set by their peers; if this is the case, it’s imperative to get to the root of it and try to deal with the issue behind the anxiety.
What to do before anxiety kicks in
It can be extremely helpful to have a quiet place to meditate and get away from the noise and bustle of everyday life, so create such a space at home and encourage your child to “unplug” for a little while each day. This means no phone, no tablet, no constant refreshing of a newsfeed. Being connected all the time can amp up the anxiety in just about anyone, so talk to your child about getting away from it all every now and then.
Remember to try and stay patient with your loved one, as anxiety can reveal itself in many different forms, including a short temper and mood swings. Talk to your child about the best ways you can help him feel good every day.
Daniel Sherwin. www.dadsolo.com
Photo via Pixabay by PublicDomainArchive