Did you know there are many benefits to using mindfulness for teen anxiety? These mindfulness practices are fun activities designed for kids, teens and young adults who can benefit from stress reduction and relaxation in their day to day life. Try these simple yet powerful ways to help your teen live in the present moment.
Take a moment to think about how confusing, strange, and scary your teenage years were.
Now, imagine if you also had a tiny little computer attached to you at all times, displaying the latest beauty trends you can’t afford on filtered pictures of kids who look like movie stars. Articles popping up about polar bears dying from climate change, and constant access to school bullies.
This is the reality our children and teens are living in.
Our kids are constantly faced with the increasing number of global issues, school violence, and social media all at their finger tips.
It is no surprise that teen anxiety is increasing at alarming rates.
Learn another common issue during teen years: 10 Signs of a Spoiled Teenager
Relentless Teen Anxiety
It’s the sad and scary truth that most modern families are facing.
According to the NIH, an estimated 31.9% of adolescents have an anxiety disorder. Latest research out of the National Survey of Children’s Health found that the number of children diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, including panic attacks, increased by 20% between 2007 and 2012.
It’s normal for teenagers to worry about specific situations and big events. The thought of a school performance or public speaking will give most teens butterflies in their stomach. Even test anxiety is expected.
However, parents need to watch for common triggers and other symptoms of an anxious teen, such as feelings of isolation or fear of meeting new people, social anxiety, or continual negative thoughts.
If you feel that your child is suffering from any mental health issues, reach out to their healthcare provider immediately.
Without the proper intervention, anxiety can lead to lack of focus, depression and social isolation.
Also, according to a recent survey, teens who experience high stress are more likely to engage in substance abuse and are:
- Nearly three times more likely to use marijuana
- Twice as likely to use alcohol
- Almost twice as likely to use tobacco
Also read: 5 Hard-to-Detect Anxiety Symptoms in Kids
Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety
The good news about teen anxiety (yes, I realize that sentence sounds silly) is that there are simple mindfulness exercises that teens can do to help combat the chronic worry.
Studies have found these 5 amazing benefits of mindful meditation:
- Decreased anxiety: studies have found that meditation may decrease anxiety – especially in more severe cases.
- Less depression: a review of 18 studies demonstrated that people receiving meditation therapies experienced reduced symptoms of depression.
- Better sleep: One study found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation stayed asleep longer and had less insomnia
- Improved Attention Span: this study suggested that people who regularly practiced meditation had a greater attention span.
- Self confidence: One review of 27 studies showed that meditation may lead people to believe in their own capacity or ability to overcome challenges
Read how mindfulness training can improve your kid’s state of mind here.
These are three effective ways to use mindfulness for teen anxiety and anxious thoughts:
1) Visualization Exercises
A visualization meditation script is the easiest and quickest way to get your kid to calm down. A visualization script is a guided imaginary story that allows you to learn to quickly and easily relax.
In other words, you go to a quiet place and relax by picturing a relaxing scene, place, or image.
There are great meditation apps and YOUTUBE channels that have simple scripts that walk you through a story and produce positive outcomes.
Click here to learn more about visualization exercises and how to find them.
2) Special Breathing Exercises
Telling your anxious teen to take deep breaths won’t always work. You have to teach them special breathing techniques.
Here are three deep breathing techniques that are simple to do:
- Alternate nostril breathing. To do this, cover your left nostril with your pointer finger. Take a slow deep breath in through your right nostril. Then, release your finger and cover your right nostril and breath out slowly through your left nostril.
- Up and down breaths. To do this, hold out your hand with your fingers spread apart. With your other hand, trace the outline of your hand. Breath in when you trace UP a finger, and breathe out when you trace down a finger.
- Belly breathing: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your belly rise. Slowly breathe out as you feel your belly fall. Your chest should not move much.
Learn 5 other ways to battle a feeling of insecurity and anxiety in a teenager here.
3) Mindfulness Meditation and Exercises
There are many other simple mindfulness activities that teens can try with little effort.
Journaling is a great way to take a moment and work through your thoughts and feelings. They can write about simple prompts like:
- What are you grateful for?
- What is a memory that bring your happiness?
- Is there something that is keeping you up at night?
- How do you relax?
Download Journal Prompts for Anxiety here:
For 10 Printable mindfulness activities for kids, click here.
Other Quick Tips to Help with Teen Anxiety
There are other simple lessons and activities that are proven to improve anxiety:
- Teach valuable time-management skills and these life skills
- Explain that they can use these new skills during moments of panic to ‘get control of your anxiety’
- Encourage them to participate in social events and extracurricular activities, or spend time with friends and family
- Teach them to have a balanced relationship with screen time and follow these social media rules
- Improve physical health with proper nutrition and regular exercise
- Say positive affirmations and practice these self care tips
Next, learn the benefits of journaling and inspirational quotes.
Final thoughts on Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety
Anxiety it a tricky beast- especially for children and teens who still have growing brains.
But, after teaching your growing child these mindfulness exercises, you will watch them flourish.
While you can’t simply step out of the way, you can rest a little easier knowing that you have given your teen the valuable tools needed to live in the present moment – something that all humans can benefit from.
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The Mindful Teen – author of the mindful teen, Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP, author of The Mindful Teen, is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine