Thirty per cent of British teenagers suffer with mental disorders and the majority of the sufferers are girls.
A large amount of the suffering is linked to anxiety, which as you know, is a tyrant with many faces. Problems range from general anxiety, social anxiety, exam or performance fears, low self-esteem, to all manner of ways to self-harm.
I hope you are agreed that this state of affairs is unacceptable and that we all need to play our part in addressing this huge problem for the sake of a healthier future for our children but also for society at large.
Read this blog on how to keep anxiety in check – and download and share your helpful poster to remind you of the 5 steps to follow!
This is where it all begins…
Start by educating yourself about anxiety (and consider to what extent you might be suffering yourself, and thereby inadvertently passing things onto your child).
Anxiety affects mind and body; it distorts thinking and undermines social connections. It robs us of sleep, drains us of energy and often spills over into depression.
If we give in to anxiety it grows, while our lives shrink.
We must though, learn to recognise how it manifests. That will be quite unique to every one of us.
If you're a parent, how wonderful it would be if you could help your child nip the problem in the bud, well before it becomes like the broken car alarm that fires off at the slightest provocation.
What I learnt from these 3 people
My stress management and resilience training workshops in schools and organisations – Thrive and Grow – have taken me all over the place recently. I’ve seen about 150 people of all ages and to my amazement only 3 of them really knew how to handle the enormous pressure they were under.
Here’s what these three said:
- They knew the importance of regular exercise. One woman had taken up kickboxing; her mental strength and physical stillness were palpable.
- Their hobbies gave them a haven; a place so absorbing that everything else was temporarily forgotten. Re-emerging from playing music or chess changed their perspective. Their hobbies also connected them with people who shared their interests.
- Knowing who your real friends are and connecting with them regularly, helps keep anxiety in check.
So we lay a good foundation, and strengthen ourselves, by connecting body-and-mind with real things and people outside of ourselves. Virtual connections lay no foundations. They merely make the anxiety rock.
What my puppy can teach us about anxiety
Dealing with anxiety requires courage. My young dog would growl and bark, tail between her legs, as she approached a concealed mirror in the garden. She’s still not quite convinced but by repeatedly approaching her enemy who appears to growl back at her, she steps past that mirror with more fortitude and resolve every day.
Step outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis and take the acronym in the poster available for free below with you as a reminder. It was offered to me many years ago and has become part of my everyday life.
I leave you with a last thought: an interesting life depends on the courage to take risks. Trying something new is always accompanied by a bit of healthy anxiety.
Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based between Woodchurch (Ashford), Kent and the Elysian Centre in Rye, East Sussex.
Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.