Making Conversations about Anxiety “Okay”
Two words that I hear often from my clients are “I’m anxious.” I’ve written before on Talking to Teenagers About Mental Health, and because this topic is worthy of occupying space and needs to be destigmatized, I’m revisiting it.
Tweens, teens, and young adults who identify as anxious or live with other mental health challenges deserve AND NEED to take up space. They need to know that it’s okay to not be okay and that naming our not-okayness is what can support them in growing stronger, more resilient, and healthier over time.
Likewise, parents and caregivers who face anxiety, depression, or other diagnoses deserve the space to BE who and how they are without stigma or fear of being judged. Parents require the same opportunity to name their experiences in order to get the care and support they need in order to heal over and over again.
Personally, the past week was pretty “off” for me. I was incredibly anxious and experienced a mild panic attack. It often felt like my shoulders were up to my ears with tension. Throughout the week, I kept noticing my body leaning closer and closer to my computer screen or steering wheel due to pushing forward with stress, rather than relaxing back into life. Consequently, my anxiety morphed into depression, as it often does. On these days, I felt low all around– low energy, low stamina, low tolerance for challenge or struggle, low motivation.
Can you relate? Have you been there before?
I’m Anxious. Now What?!
I share my experience with anxiety and depression here because my clients, teens and parents alike, often open up to me, often sharing that they are feeling anxious or depressed. Typically, they usually lower their voices and shyly look around to see if anyone is can hear them. It can be scary to talk about mental health and to share the shadow parts of ourselves, which make today’s article especially crucial.
As I coach, I act as a support during these challenging times. I help clients come up with concrete action plans and strategies for managing and, more importantly, healing their wounds related to anxiety and depression. Simultaneously, I model and live with the tools that I teach.
Throughout the course of the week, I used MANY strategies, and yet, I forgot to use many other strategies. As I reflected on all of this while in meditation, I felt called to document some of the strategies I’ve used along my journey. My hope is that you, as a teen or a parent, know at a deep level that you are not alone, and more importantly, that there is nothing “wrong” with you. You have the power from within to help yourself heal. I share this list as an additional set of tools for you to explore and incorporate. Please feel free to print this list; add to it, alter it, enjoy it.
35 Healing Tools for Times of Anxiety and Depression:
(Amazon affiliate links included)
- Text or chat a friend or family member you feel safe with. Reach out for support by saying something like, “I’m struggling with my anxiety this week.”
- Stand, sit, or lay in the sun.
- Tap! Give Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) a try! (Truly, this has been game-changer for me this last year!)
- Dance, bounce, and shake. (I just purchased a mini trampoline for this reason.)
- Eat cooked, grounding, nutrient-rich foods that are easiest to digest. Here are a few ideas to get started: kitchari, soups, and oatmeal.
- Listen to loud, upbeat music that you can sing to.
- Go to sleep early/as soon as you feel tired and/or take a nap.
- Take a bath with epsom salts and lavender oil.
- Cuddle up under a weighted blanket.
- Turn devices and screens off. Enjoy a digital detox.
- Take a walk and invite yourself to notice natural beauty around you. (Sometimes, I challenge myself to take 5 or 10 pictures that capture something beautiful or joyful.)
- Drink herbal tea. Consider avoiding caffeine, as it can be ungrounding.
- Burn palo santo or sage (or use sage spray) to clear the energy in your space.
- Cancel plans that feel forced, stressful, or unnecessary.
- Schedule luxurious self-care such as a pedicure, a massage, or chiropractic care.
- Keep an “awesomeness journal” in which you record kind words and compliments from others as well as my personal highlights.
- Scroll my friend Julia’s Instagram feed for affirmations. You are not alone!
- Practice breath work. Balloon breathing is a great place to start.
- Do something with your hands! Knit, color, organize, puzzle, fold laundry, or make a collage.
- Buy yourself flowers to brighten my space and mood.
- Say and repeat mantras.
- Journal. No expectations; simply write (or draw!) whatever comes up.
- Light a candle or build a fire to imagine throwing your worries into the fire.
- Maintain quiet, meditation or prayer time.
- Name your extra sensitivity/emotionality during this time and ask people for more space and patience.
- Eat a small amount of low-sugar, high cacao-content chocolate. (HU is my favorite.)
- Put your bare feet on or in the earth, whether this be sand, dirt, grass, or a creek bed.
- Explore apps that support anxiety healing.
- Move your body mindfully. You might try yoga, barre, taichi, or a walk.
- Review notes and tools from past coaching, therapy, or personal development sessions.
- Watch vloggers who speak about mental health on YouTube.
- End your shower with 2 minutes of cold water or plunge your face into a bowl of cold water.
- Read a novel. Young Adult (YA) or poetry can be a fun place to begin!
- Celebrate being alive by doing something you love, whether it be eating a favorite food, going to a coffee shop you enjoy, or calling a loved one.
- Schedule time with your coach and/or therapist.
If you or an awesome teenager in your life are ready to create your own custom list of healing tools, let’s chat. I’d love to gift you with a 1-hour call to explore the transformation that you and your family want to manifest.
*Disclaimer: I am a life coach, not a licensed counselor or therapist. Coaching– including this list of strategies– consists of talking about the present, clarifying your intentions, designing goals, and taking action within a safe, supportive relationship and community. Coaching is not psychotherapy, does not seek to diagnose, nor should it be used as a substitute for treating mental health conditions.
If you or your teen are facing anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, contact your medical provider and/or mental health provider promptly. Austin-area friends, please reach out for referrals. Far-away friends, begin by calling your doctor and searching https://www.psychologytoday.com/ for a mental health professional.