5 Anxiety Coping Skills for Teens


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Are you a teenager with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)? If so, you probably understand the challenges teens often face in coping with triggers. Whether it’s family arguments or upcoming finals exams, it can seem like there is always something triggering your anxiety. Your anxiety can hurt your concentration and lead to headaches and digestive issues. In intense situations, it can also trigger panic attacks. Learning effective new coping skills is key for teens who want to manage their anxiety levels.

Plenty of teenagers need anxiety coping skills. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 30% of adolescents have some form of anxiety disorder. You are not alone, even if it can sometimes feel that way. Fortunately, better coping strategies are within reach. By utilizing the right coping skills and seeking professional treatment, you can work to manage your anxiety symptoms and improve your overall mental health.

Helpful anxiety coping skills for teens

  • Trying breathing exercises

Breathing is simple yet powerful. Controlled breathing exercises are a great way to promote relaxation in your body and reduce stress. Breathing skills are an excellent coping skill for teens with anxiety because of their convenience. You can practice controlled breathing in class, at home, on the bus and in many other places. There are a variety of breathing exercises you can do to reduce your anxiety: 4-7-8 breathing is one approach used by a lot of people. 

  • To start, inhale through your nose while silently counting to 4. 
  • Hold your breath while counting to 7. 
  • Finally, exhale through your mouth while counting to 8. 

Controlled breathing can increase the oxygen in your body, which can promote relaxation. Another benefit is the way it distracts from external stimuli. If you are trying to avoid thinking about an anxiety trigger, breathing exercises can help you focus and relax.

  • Using grounding techniques

Anxiety can be disorienting. When you are experiencing rising anxiety or panic, finding a way to ground yourself can be helpful. Grounding exercises are techniques used to help individuals stay mentally and emotionally present in the current moment, especially during times of stress, anxiety, or dissociation. The best grounding techniques engage your physical senses, helping you focus on the present moment instead of the stressors and fears occupying your mind. 

Sometimes grounding yourself can be as simple as picking up a tangible object. Holding and squeezing a stress ball, for example, can help you stay calm. Moving your body can be another good grounding distraction. If anxious thoughts are dominating your mental space, try going for a refreshing walk. This might help ease your mind.

Other grounding techniques that may help you include: 

  • Walking barefoot
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Challenging negative thoughts

Try not to let negative thoughts go unchallenged. Anxious thought patterns, especially those centered around failure and inadequacy, can grow stronger over time. Challenging these patterns is among the best ways to manage them. Working with a licensed clinical therapist, you can brainstorm effective ways to challenge your negative thoughts when they appear. If you experience negative thoughts like, “I will fail,” for example, your therapist may teach you to try to challenge that sentiment and replace it with something like, “I will do my best.” 

This second statement is an example of an affirmation. Affirmations as brief statements you can make aloud or to yourself that help build your confidence and self-esteem. You can work with your therapist to develop affirmation phrases that are meaningful to you. You can then jot those affirming phrases down on a sticky note that you attach to your mirror or in a note application on your phone. That way, you have a physical reminder of your affirmations. Then, when you need a way to deal with your anxiety, you can repeat your affirmations to reinforce a positive mindset. Affirmations are a great coping skill for teens because they also encourage creativity.

  • Finding community 

Being part of a supportive community can have a major beneficial impact on your anxiety symptoms. You can find support in a number of places. From reaching out to family members to joining a free online support group, there are lots of ways to find safe, supportive community spaces. Connecting with others can be a great way to feel empowered and overcome feelings of shame or inadequacy.

  • Finding supportive anxiety treatment

One of the best ways for teens to build anxiety coping skills is professional treatment. With process-based therapy (PBT), you can work to address the root causes of your anxiety. Your therapist can help you find solutions with a treatment plan tailored specifically to meet your needs. A range of integrated interventions allows PBT to be highly versatile. By working with your thoughts and providing interventions rooted in compassion, your therapist can help you achieve your treatment goals.

Lightfully can help teens build anxiety coping skills

If you’re a teen who is ready to build effective anxiety coping skills, Lightfully Behavioral Health is here to help. With our help, you can develop effective coping skills and build emotional resilience. And all as a part of a treatment plan that’s based on process-based therapy and designed to be: 

Change is possible. When you’re ready to find kind and supportive help with your anxiety, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps in your anxiety journey together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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