Anxiety in Older Teens and Adults and How to Manage it in 7 Easy Steps

Stressed older teen using tablet
Anxious older teen at home using tablet.

The word “anxiety” has become as common as many other descriptive feeling type words, hasn’t it?

People say to me:

“I’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or condition” or “my anxiety is really playing up today – I feel so bad.”

But what IS anxiety? Well, the dictionary says it is “unease about something with an uncertain outcome”, and I guess that sounds right!

Anxiety is a feeling – just like we feel sad, or happy, angry or scared.

So, the real problem with anxiety is that when it gets out of control, and we feel helpless, we feel worried that it will never go away. Then, of course, it starts to affect our daily lives – we can’t sleep – we can’t eat – we feel like we can’t go out (we can’t at the moment I know!) we feel that we don’t want to speak to anyone, the list goes on and on.

So how can we help our teenage anxious child, young adult, or even ourselves, manage these anxious feelings?

During this horrendous time of lockdowns, Covid 19, homeschooling, working from home’s important that we, and/or our teens and youngsters, do two things:

Firstly, we have to protect ourselves from the virus, and secondly, we need to protect ourselves from our anxiety! If YOU or your youngsters have been struggling with overwhelming feelings of fear, worry and anxious thoughts – just put these seven important strategies in place and practice them every day.

1. Distance yourself from the media coverage.

I know we need to know what is going on in the world – however, all anxiety originates from uncertainty, and if you or your teen has a vivid and active imagination, this can lead to what we call “catastrophising”(producing catastrophic thoughts). The more anxious you feel, the more you should stop listening, watching or reading the news. Any important information you need to know – you will be sure to find out about!

2. Do not assume you have COVID 19!

If you start sneezing or coughing – remember – it is still possible to get a common cold, a cough, or a throat infection without it being COVID! Don’t start scanning your body looking for more symptoms, just say to yourself, as you would normally do, “Oh, I’ve got a damn cold!” and then just carry on.

If your teen starts sneezing or coughing just do the same – rather than say Oh dear I wonder if it could be covid? just say “Oh what a shame, yes, there are lots of colds around at the moment – just make sure you rest and take lots of fluids.” Rather than; “Oh NO! I hope it’s not COVID!” (and believe me, I’ve heard mums say this to their kids!) Remember that suggestion is a form of persuasion!!

3. Stop Dwelling and take Action!

Some of you may be worried about contracting the virus – some of you may be worried about your business or your job, but if you keep focusing on the worst thing that can happen, the more anxious you will be feeling. I know you can’t do much about the actual thoughts coming into your mind, but, you CAN choose to stop worrying and take some action to solve any immediate problems.

For example, if there is a bill you can’t pay, pick up the phone and speak to someone and I am virtually 100% sure they will give you more time to pay or give you another solution. However, ignoring the bill and not doing anything at all about it WILL lead to more worry! Do you see where I’m heading with this? The same with your teenager – he may be worrying about not being able to do his work so well online and getting behind with it – but if you explain to him that a little chat with his teacher will probably put his mind at rest – this will make him feel good that he is taking action and responsibility and will lessen any anxiety.

4. Focus on new things!

We have little or no control over the current crisis, the pandemic and all it entails, but we do have control on what we CAN focus on which could be things like decorating the house, learning a foreign language, learning how to draw (like I did!) There are so many things that we don’t normally have time for so we must utilise this time wisely and make it work for us! So many people have turned a disadvantage into an advantage – one client of mine who came to me for anxiety last April has now started up her own online cookery business and is doing exceptionally well.

One teenager who was really interested in baking has actually made so many cakes and biscuits that she and her mum have been taking them to the homeless shelters and donating them – she said to me “Elaine, I feel really good, my anxiety has gone and now that I feel like I’m helping other people to survive I’ve got my confidence back too!” You see, when we feel anxious, we lose our confidence, and our self-esteem becomes low – but we can easily build it back up again with some of the simplest actions.

5. Reduce your stress and practice gratitude.

Many people have told me that they now feel grateful for the very simplest of things in life, like being able to go out in the fresh air, or have a hair- cut, lunch with a friend or even taking your child to a birthday party. Once the pandemic is over, we, of course, will ALL be grateful to get back to our “normal” lives, but, we may well all have learned not to take things for granted so much. Keeping a journal or a diary is a really good way of tracking your feelings. I always tell my clients who come to me for anxiety to do this. One man said:

“I kept a diary for a month last summer, and it really opened my eyes to how much I was focusing on negative things, and as I looked at it from week to week, by the end of the month, with Elaine’s zoom therapy sessions, I realised I was no longer ruminating about the trivial negative stuff, but my anxious feelings were disappearing right before my eyes!” 

So, keep a journal, do some meditation, yoga, exercise on a daily basis and eat healthily, and in no time, you will feel much better.

6. Don’t over-do it.  

We all know what we have to do on a daily basis, don’t we! Wash our hands, clean surfaces regularly and keep our distance. However, some people can go a little bit too far and become obsessive about cleaning. As long as you do what the NHS and the government have told us – the basics, you will be as safe as you possibly can be. Going over the top and turning your home into a sterile, germ-free, clinic like zone will not help. In fact, it will be counter-productive, and you will end up with several family members all having anxiety issues!

7. Get help if you feel you need it!

If you constantly have feelings of being overwhelmed and feel anxious most of the time, worried and fearful, do seek professional help. A good therapist can you get to the root of WHY you are so anxious and can help you manage those feelings. Hypnotherapy is one of the treatments of choice when it comes to emotional problems because it gets right to the subconscious mind where all the negative thoughts are. Jane, who has been having sessions with me on-line, as she is a nurse in Intensive Care and is suffering greatly, said:

“We mustn’t feel ashamed about asking for help – having anxiety or depression is just as bad as having a physical illness, and if you need help, just ask. I went to Elaine because I knew she had a great reputation for working with anxious souls like myself and my two teenagers. She was amazing, and my husband is now seeing her too as he suffers from high blood pressure and we are trying to stabilise it. Her sessions are so relaxing.”

Jane – Intensive care nurse

So, if you or a family member, are feeling low, suffering from anxiety, depression or fearful feelings, do contact me at: I can treat the family as a whole – or I can do one to one sessions, on zoom. These work just as well as the face- to -face sessions; in fact, they are even more successful!

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