Holistic Ways for Teens to Battle Anxiety | Guest Post by Jane Sandwood

Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health issues in the U.S., and statistics indicate that around 60% of those with anxiety also show symptoms of depression. Not only do they coexist, but, as stated by academics at the Mayo Clinic, “it is common to have depression that is triggered by an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder.” Tackling anxiety proactively should therefore be seen as an important weapon to have on your side when depression and suicidal thoughts threaten your wellbeing. If you think you may have anxiety and/or depression, seeing your health professional is key in order to obtain a diagnosis and follow a treatment plan. However, there are many holistic anxiety busters you might also like to try out. Make it a point to mention a few to your doctor and you may be surprised to see they fully back these complementary approaches.

Strike an Asana

If you are a teen, at least one adult that is important to you may already be passionate about yoga – a practice that involves breathing, carrying out certain ‘asanas’ or poses, and creating an important connection between body and mind. Yoga can be a big help if you have anxiety or depression, regardless of your age. One study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found that yoga can play an important role in adolescent health. This is because it can help with resilience, anger management, and mindfulness – which is thought to protect against mental illness. Yoga also helps lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol – which, when present at high levels, can trigger panic attacks.

Time for Self-Love

Once in a while, it pays to pamper and love yourself. Studies have shown that self-compassion (being as kind to yourself as you are to friends and loved ones) has very positive mental effects. One study that was presented at a Psychology Conference in Scotland found that simply giving yourself high quality ‘me-time’ improves your psychological wellbeing and relationships with others. ‘Me-time’ can simply mean staying at home and catching your favorite Netflix show but it can also mean taking part in a hobby. If you regularly subscribe to surprise boxes in the mail, it could be fun to choose one that is both meaningful and offers activities for you to do. It could be art, beauty, or cooking. Between school, family, and friends you may have little time to yourself, so make the most of it by indulging in activities you love on a regular basis.

Into the Wild

If you find that you somehow are at peace when you head to a beautiful forest or park setting, there is a good scientific reason for that. A 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers found that strolling or sitting in a green area for just 20 minutes significantly lowers your stress hormone levels. It doesn’t matter what time of day or what type of nature experience prefer. If you’ve never tried it before, why not have a ‘forest bath’? It sounds more complicated than it seems. Simply head to your favorite green or blue area and aim to bring your mind to ‘the here and now,’ Open your senses – those of sight, touch, and sound — to the beauty around you. Breathe in the fragrance of bark and leaf and revel in the beauty of the moment.

Anxiety and depression can often co-exist, so it is important to take proactive steps to address both conditions. Anxiety-busting activities are those which lower stress and just a few ways to do so are through yoga, meditation, pampering yourself, and heading into nature. The calmer you feel, the lower the chance that anxiety will trigger symptoms of depression.