Anxiety Coping Skills for Teens - Dr. Roseann
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Anxiety Coping Skills for Teens

Anxiety Coping Skills for Teens

Anxiety happens when you're nervous, uneasy, or worried for an extended period of time. It's normal to be anxious, and everyone feels that all the time. But if you are struggling in your day-to-day life or can no longer do anything because you're always afraid, that's anxiety and it's not healthy. If it starts to interfere with your school work, relationships or family life  and prevents you from being in the present moment, it becomes clinical anxiety.

When you're anxious, the nervous system is often in a fight, flight, or freeze state. It does so due to several stressors. These stressors may be sensory, environmental, or emotional. One's experiences may also cause unhealthy emotional states and physical unease. Physical symptoms become evident, such as difficulty focusing, sleeping, or even physical pain.

Teens are most prone to anxiety because of the physical transformations associated with adolescence. They are also subjected to stressful situations in school, not to mention having to go through all those awkward social interactions. Middle school and high school are anxiety-inducing because it is also the time when teens experience heartbreaks, peer pressure, and insecurities. They also start to fear that they won't get good grades in school and what that means for their future. 

Types of Anxiety Disorder

Types of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders in children, teens, and young adults may come in different types. Children as young as six years old may develop anxiety, which is why it is important to diagnose the disorder early. If you suspect that your teen has it, seek help. That way, they can get emotional support and their condition can be managed before they enter their teenage years. The different types of anxiety disorders are:

#1 Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) 

A teen with generalized anxiety disorder suffers from excessive and persistent worrying about a lot of things. It is difficult for teens with GAD to control or address their worries. These teens may worry about the same thing for over six months and exhibit three or more anxiety symptoms. 

#2 Social Anxiety Disorder

Teens with social anxiety disorder avoid being in situations where they can get judged, scrutinized, or evaluated by others. As such, they fear doing things where they have to with other people and can't handle social pressure well. Their feelings of anxiety roots in the fear of being rejected or humiliated. Many with school anxiety often have social anxiety.

#3 Panic Disorder

Panic attacks are sudden waves of fear of losing control regardless if there's a trigger or clear danger. It's the body's response to fear. Teens with panic disorders experience unexpected and frequent panic attacks. The attack may occur at any time and combine with physical symptoms such as tingling, trembling, chest pain, and a fast heart rate, among others.

#4 Phobias 

Phobias cause a person to experience extreme and irrational fear about a certain object, place, living creature, or situation. This exaggerated fear forces the person to modify their life to avoid whatever it is they are fearful of. When subjected to their phobia, the person will go through intense distress that prevents them from acting normally.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Teens 

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Teens

  • Excessive worrying and sweating
  • Trouble staying asleep, going to sleep, and having frequent nightmares
  • Fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating
  • Overly sensitive and emotional lability 
  • Rage, anger, meltdowns, and long tantrums 
  • Lack of self-confidence and constantly seeking approval 
  • Fearful and have phobias
  • Perfectionistic tendencies
  • Rigidity and sensory processing issues 
  • Negative talk or a tendency to think the worst
  • Social avoidance or difficulties and fear of speaking to strangers or in public 
  • Attention or focus problems and easily gets distracted by worrying thoughts
  • Low frustration tolerance and worries about the future
  • Won't turn in school work or frequently erase them
  • Avoids new experiences and says no all the time
  • Hyperverbal looping and hyperactive behavior
  • Muscle tension and difficulty relaxing
  • Physical pain like headaches and stomachaches
  • Red face in social situations, and having hives and similar skin conditions 
  • Holding of bowels and bladder, and frequent urination

Essential Skills to Cope with Anxiety in Teens 

Essential Skills to Cope with Anxiety in Teens

Teens need support for their anxiety. Oftentimes, teens with an anxiety disorder can't easily change their situation and get better. It's because they don't choose to feel or act anxiously. There's something inside them that triggers the condition. 

This is why they need solutions and a lot of healthy coping skills. When anxiety disorder is ignored it may get worse and become a problem they'll have to deal with until adulthood. Here are some coping techniques that can help them tremendously. 

1. Stress management

Managing stress is a skill every person with anxiety disorder should learn. Parents should be role models when it comes to handling stress. Show your children how to overcome their troubles and work through stressful events or situations.

If teens see how steadfast and efficient their parents are in managing stress, they will likely model their strengths and develop a better stress response. Start by initiating lifestyle changes to help ease your teen's anxiety. 

Find simple ways for your teen to see the positive side of what they're being anxious about. Always practice self-care. Remember that self-care is not a luxury but a necessity for mental health. For example, you can ask your child with you to join you in a yoga session to help ease their teen stress. 

2. Breathing exercises

When your teen is anxious, they often can't breathe well. Tell them to make that conscious effort to breathe in and out whenever they feel anxious. Learning some breathing exercises can help a lot. Teach them to look for a comfortable spot where they can take deep breaths by inhaling through their nose and exhaling through the mouth.  

3. Meditation 

Meditation is a helpful way to address anxiety as it effectively calms the mind. Breathwork and meditation come hand in hand, and it's easy to practice them anytime and anywhere. It's best to meditate in a quiet and peaceful environment if you're just starting out. But once you get the hang of it, you can meditate almost anywhere. 

Meditation consists of deep breathing, paying attention to your mind and body, and choosing a word to say repeatedly in your mind. Try not to think of anything else while meditating. With practice, you'll be more focused and you'll find its positive effect on anxiety. Start by listening to a song that calms you down. Spending time with nature can be a form of meditation too. 

4. Journaling

Many teens with anxiety say that writing about the things that they're anxious about is a great way to ease their minds and address difficult emotions. Invite your struggling teen to write down their feelings and thoughts in a journal. Writing is therapeutic and can help clear the mind.  

If your teen has ongoing anxiety, make journaling a routine for them. It's a great idea to set aside a few minutes each day to write about their stressors and worries. They can also write about their goals and dreams as well. All these will help shift their thinking.  

One study explored the effect of journaling on people with anxiety. It concluded that positive affect journaling is an effective intervention to mitigate mental distress, increase well-being, and enhance physical functioning. It can be integrated into the patient's routine medical care to improve their quality of life (Smyth et al., 2018).

5. Trigger identification

Identify the triggers of your teen's anxiety and talk about them. Let them realize that whatever they're worried about may not necessarily happen. You may also try exposure therapy with a therapist for your teen to train their mind and understand what they are being anxious about.

During exposure therapy, a psychologist will create a safe place to expose your teen to the things they fear or are anxious about. By exposing them to their fears in a safe space, they can reduce their anxiety and avoidance of the matter (American Psychological Association, 2017). 

6. Social media diet

Every teen has a social media account and completely cutting them off from the internet feels cruel. But you can always set boundaries on their usage. For example, enforce some rules like they can't check their phones or social media accounts after 10 pm.

You should also ask your teen to remove, mute, or unfollow accounts that make them anxious and add more things that inspire them or make them happy. While this isn't asking your teen to close all their social media accounts, regulating its use can help so much in addressing their anxiety symptoms.

7. Exercising

There are a lot of benefits to exercising. Moving your body helps release endorphins, which aids in combating depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. If your teen can join sports teams and group activities, that's even better. They'll get more support from their teammates or good friends while doing a physical activity that they enjoy.  

8. Reframing Thoughts 

Our thoughts contain power. However, teens with anxiety may find it difficult to change their thoughts. It's not easy to think positively when you feel the whole world is crumbling around you. Sometimes, a simple pep talk won't cut it. 

The better way to address anxiety is to recognize anxious thoughts as they come. That's when you encourage your teen of the power they have to challenge and change their thoughts. Flipping that internal script is important. Knowing what triggers them allows them to come up with health strategies on how to avoid them, such as positive self-talk.

Solutions for Teens with Anxiety 

Solutions for Teens with Anxiety

Teens with an anxiety disorder tend to focus on their worries and fears all the time and cease to be productive. If not managed properly, their fear may soon become very irrational, and they may even succumb to their negative thoughts.

Aside from having a list of coping skills, consulting with healthcare professionals and primary care providers can help a lot. They can provide treatments like family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The most important thing for your teen right now is to find a healthy way to reduce their negative self-talk and restore their good mental health.

To help reduce the effect of anxiety, EFT tapping may help relieve anxious thoughts. One study has proven that EFT produces positive health effects and improves the mental well-being of people suffering from anxiety, and depression (Bach et al., 2019).  

For teens diagnosed with clinical anxiety, the primary solutions include PEMF and neurofeedback to effectively reduce the symptoms and calm the brain. Both treatments are backed by science to create favorable results for children and teens.

One study aimed to investigate how PEMF or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy affects people suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and panic disorders. The study concluded that PEMF is a viable alternative therapy to stimulate the brain as it initiates several physiologic actions which can alleviate these conditions (Pawluk, 2019). 

Neurofeedback was tested on patients with anxiety and after 30 sessions in a span of three months, a significant decrease in the symptoms of anxiety was observed. After a year, their clinical scales were within normal and eventually became symptom-free. These findings prove how neurofeedback can be an effective solution for anxiety disorders (Moradi et al., 2011).


American Psychological Association. (2017). What Is Exposure Therapy? Https://

Bach, D., Groesbeck, G., Stapleton, P., Sims, R., Blickheuser, K., & Church, D. (2019). Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, 24(24), 2515690X18823691.

Moradi, A., Pouladi, F., Pishva, N., Rezaei, B., Torshabi, M., & Mehrjerdi, Z. A. (2011). Treatment of Anxiety Disorder with Neurofeedback: Case Study. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 103–107.

Pawluk, W. (2019). Pulsed Magnetic Field Treatment of Anxiety, Panic and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Journal of Alternative, Complementary & Integrative Medicine, 5(3), 1–8.

Smyth, J. M., Johnson, J. A., Auer, B. J., Lehman, E., Talamo, G., & Sciamanna, C. N. (2018). Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Mental Health, 5(4), e11290.

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

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Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of  media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.” 

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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