The body’s response to anxiety is a response to danger. When we feel anxious, our bodies release adrenaline into our bloodstream to enable us to get to safety quickly (flight response). The danger doesn’t have to be real for this to happen. All we have to do is think it is real.
For people who suffer from anxiety, this response kicks in when it isn’t needed, often due to exaggerated thoughts… that many, especially teens, struggle with: “They all hated me…I’ll never be able to talk to anyone…I’m a loser and I’ll never amount to anything…”etc. These thoughts lead your teen to the flight or fight response of real danger: they will avoid (flight) friends, places, leave early, etc. or they will be angry (fight) over something as simple as a question you may ask, such as “did you do your homework?” (their thinking: “I’m stupid. You know I’m stupid. I am going to fail. Stop making me feel worse.”) These flight or fight responses give them the illusion of safety when in reality it perpetuates your teen’s anxiety.
The more they avoid friends, for example, the harder it will be for them to read social cues, to engage in a conversation, to feel good about themselves. The angrier they get when you ask a question, the less able they are to identify the fact that what they are really upset about is their fear that they are “stupid”, for example.
At Mindful Healing, once we help teens identify their responses as anxious responses, we then teach them how to cope with the anxiety itself. One of the techniques to our body’s adrenaline response is Mindful Breathing. This one technique can drastically reduce the frequency and the intensity of both thoughts and physical sensations of anxiety.
If your teen needs support learning contact us today.