All About Teen Anxiety

All Things Social/Emotional at Addison Secondary Schools

Fight Flight Freeze – Anxiety Explained For Teens

All About Anxiety

Dear Students,

This week, we will be spending some time learning about the topic of ANXIETY. Anxiety is a struggle that is actually fairly common --according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 31% of adolescents struggle with an anxiety disorder. This newsletter is designed to help you recognize any symptoms of anxiety in yourself and learn ways to feel better through developing healthy coping mechanisms.

Before we get started, I want to remind you that even though we don't get to see you face-to-face at school anymore, we are all still here to help. Please don't ever hesitate to reach out to me either by email or by submitting a request form for non-urgent issues. If you or a loved one is experiencing an emergency or one of the '3 Hurts,' please seek help immediately using one of resources listed at the very bottom of this newsletter. As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out!

Stay Healthy! Stay Happy!

Ms. Monica Flores

Secondary Behavior Specialist

Addison Community Schools

Mrs. Ashley Davis

Secondary School Counselor

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What is ANXIETY?

According to the University of Michigan's TRAILS to Wellness, anxiety is an intense feeling of being afraid, nervous, tense or worried that is too strong for the situation, go on too long and get in the way of normal life. Being afraid is normal for survival in situations of real danger, but sometimes the feelings are transferred to situations that are not actually dangerous. The same is true about worry. Worrying can be helpful when it is important to be prepared and consider possible things that could go wrong. But worrying about many things all the time is unhelpful and distressing. All anxiety problems involve being overly afraid or overly worried. When fear and worry are not necessary, are too strong, and interfere with life, it is important to get help.

Last edited: 08/10/2019

What does Anxiety Look Like for Teens?

Being a teen is tough sometimes! You are navigating new academic demands via 'distance learning', biological and hormonal changes, worries about fitting in or being liked, friendship, dating, peer pressure, identity, and self-esteem, all while striving for their own independence and autonomy. Naturally, adolescent anxiety is somewhat a normal part of growing up, and all kids experience it. But when it becomes extreme, it can interfere with your overall happiness.

As you can imagine, with all of this going on it is expected for you to have anxious moments. Phases of anxiety are usually short term, and often occur alongside with environmental stressors--the current global pandemic, conflicts with friends, before new experiences, or when preparing for a high-pressure situation such as an important competition. Generally, teens are resilient and can often bounce back from difficult emotions. However, when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can produce chronic symptoms that require a significant amount of energy to manage or that may prevent them from fully functioning and being your best-selves.

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What Can I Do to Feel Less Worried?

There are lots of healthy strategies to help you! Listed below are some tips that put together to help decrease feelings of anxiety.

1. Become a relaxation expert. We all think we know how to relax. But chilling out in front of the TV or computer isn't true relaxation. (Depending on what you're watching or doing, it could even make you more tense.) The same is true for alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. They may seem to relieve anxiety or stress, but it's a false state of relaxation that's only temporary. What the body really needs is daily practice of a relaxation technique — like deep breathing, tai chi, or yoga — that has a physical effect on the mind. For example, deep breathing helps to relax a major nerve that runs from the diaphragm to the brain, sending a message to the entire body to let go and loosen up.

2. Get enough sleep, nourishment, and exercise. Want your mind and body to feel peaceful and strong enough to handle life's ups and downs? Get the right amount of sleep for your needs — not too much or too little. Eat well: Choose fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for long-term energy (instead of the short bursts that come from too much sugar or caffeine). And exercise to send oxygen to every cell in the body so your brain and body can operate at their best.

3. Connect with others. Spend time calling/texting/messaging your friends and family members. Organized activities are great, but just talking works too. Doing things with those we feel close to deepens our bonds, allowing us to feel supported and secure. And the fun and sharing that go with it allow us to feel happier and less upset about things. If you feel worried or nervous about something, talking about it with someone who listens and cares can help you feel more understood and better able to cope. You'll be reminded that everyone has these feelings sometimes. You're not alone.

4. Connect with nature. Heading out for a walk in the park or a hike in the woods can help anyone feel peaceful and grounded. (Choose somewhere you feel safe so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings.) Walking, hiking, trail biking, or snowshoeing offer the additional benefit of exercise. Invite a friend or two — or a family member — along and enjoy feeling connected to people as well.

5. Pay attention to the good things. A great way to keep our minds off the worry track is to focus our thoughts on things that are good, beautiful, and positive. Appreciate the small, everyday blessings. Allow yourself to dream, wish, and imagine the best that could happen.

Note: When anxiety or worry feels extreme, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. For someone who has an anxiety disorder, getting proper care from a health professional is important. These tips can help too, of course. But professional treatment is the only way to shake an anxiety disorder.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

Date reviewed: April 2016

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When to Get Help for Anxiety

Since everyone feels scared, anxious or worried sometimes, it is important to pay attention when the feelings, thoughts and behaviors are very intense, go on too long and get in the way of being able to do what you normally do. The main way that people handle anxiety is by avoiding “facing up” to fears and worries. This coping approach works very well in the moment because it lowers the anxious feelings right away (e.g., staying home, not going into social situations). The problem is that avoiding never solves the problem of unrealistic or too intense fears and worries. Avoidance can become a problem in itself. Avoiding things you are afraid of gets in the way of normal life like going to school and having friends. Other times, avoidance can be risky or harmful. For example, a teenager may drink or take drugs to avoid or lessen anxious feelings. Sometimes, even engaging in risky behavior or self-harming behavior can be a form of avoiding “facing up” to fears and worries. Get help right away if...

  • You are doing things on purpose to hurt yourself
  • You are drinking and taking drugs to block out negative feelings

Last edited: 08/10/2019

Disaster Distress Helpline

The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Lenawee Community Mental Healthy (CMH) - COVID19 Info

During this time of uncertainty, Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority (LCMHA) wants to let our community know that they are still ‘open for business’. In an effort to keep everyone safe, face to face contact has been reduced. If you are in need of services for yourself or your students, please call their office at (517) 263-8905 or (800) 664-5005. The COVID-19 pandemic is understandably creating an increase in anxiety and fear--this is a normal reaction to a worldwide crisis. There is help available. CMH is currently offering community groups to help you cope with the stress and anxiety. These groups are conducted via Zoom by a Master’s level clinician. They will be held every day at 10am and 2pm. You can join the group by going to the LCMHA Facebook page or website at (click on the Coronavirus link).