AnxietyAnswersAnxiety can seem hard to shake, but these tips can shrink its power and prevent further attacks.Anxiety often comes from fears about things that can or might happen. Check out Raina Telegemeier's awesome new book GUTS about how she reduced her girlhood anxiety.By Jill Rutledge, LCSW
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by anxiety? Do you ever get stomachaches or headaches because you worry so much? When you lay your head down on your pillow at night, do you have worrisome thoughts racing in your head that stop you from getting to sleep? I’m a psychotherapist, and I talk to lots of girls who are looking for help with worry and anxiety.
Sometimes a girl’s anxiety is related to something extremely challenging that is going on in her life, such as moving to a new school, or her parents getting divorced, or a death in the family. Other common triggers to a girl’s anxiety are worries about school, friendships, or her changing body. Some girls worry because they don’t feel that they’re “good enough,” even though they are great just the way they are!
Often, a girl’s worries lead to negative thinking about herself and her situation, which leads to more worry and anxiety. However, this “vicious circle” can be broken! Tap Out StressKids and adults can use repetitive movements such as tapping to interrupt anxious emotion attacks. Try giving yourself a "butterﬂ y hug." Cross your hands, palms toward you, and start tapping your hands against your chest or upper arms. Take deep, slow breaths at the same time. You can also give yourself positive messages or simply think about being in a peaceful place you love.What's Your Negative Thinking Pattern? Here are a few patterns that I often hear about from girls.
“Black or White” Thinking: This is when you feel like a total failure if you don’t think you’ve done something “perfectly.” For example, say you got a C on a Spanish test. You studied really hard and tried your best, but you felt like you were “stupid” because you didn't get an A. Sometimes it's hard to see the “grey area” of trying your best and learning from your mistakes.
Discounting the Positive: This is when you don’t feel that your “positives” are as important as your “negatives.” Sandy has one best friend, but her best friend has four close friends. Instead of feeling good about having a bestie, Sandy felt bad because she didn’t have more close friends.
Jumping to a Negative Conclusion: This is when you interpret a situation as negative, even though you have no facts to support your negative thinking. For example, you may think that someone doesn’t like you because she didn’t say “Hi” to you in class. However, that person may have had something else on her mind and may have been distracted and preoccupied at the time. She may have felt sad or stressed and anxious herself! There could be many reasons why she didn’t say “Hi.”
So how does a girl calm her negative thinking, worry and anxiety? Jodie, who’s 12, found some coping skills that helped a lot. Perhaps her coping skills can help you too!