Anxiety is on the rise within today’s teen population. In 2013, an estimated 3 million (11.6%) of Canadian teens were reported to have had an anxiety disorder and the numbers have been steadily rising since then.
Many teens today are dealing with social pressures that can affect their self-esteem and self-identity. One thing about anxiety is that it makes a person cling to every little mistake that they have made or haven’t made yet. Anxiety makes one closely pay attention to every little detail about themselves and others, such as body language, tone, and responses. A person with anxiety worries about how others view him/herself, but the reality is that no one is a harsher critic than the voice in your head.
Most people with anxiety seem calm and quiet on the outside. Social media’s perfectly staged photos add to that perception. But on the inside, it’s constant chaos. It’s identical to a storm where every wave that hits them is destroying themselves from the inside-out. “Relax. breathe, stop thinking so I can stay quiet and pretend that everything is alright. That I’m alright” is a common inner dialogue.
Anxiety doesn’t just come at 3:00 am when you’re trying to sleep but can’t because of that voice in your head whispering to you all the bad things that could happen, it comes at any time: For example, you’re hanging out with friends and suddenly anxiety hits you, complicating social situations that are already stressful.
To show how anxiety plays out in real life, let’s consider two people at a train station, where both have missed their train. To the average person, this is but a minor setback. However, the other person has anxiety and will panic and think things such as, “What if the train isn’t coming back?” “What if I get fired for being late because I missed the train?” The continued inner dialogue does not let up.
The best metaphor for how anxiety feels would be as if you’ve been dragged down to the depths of the ocean, that you’re drowning but can’t get to the surface for air because you can’t swim, you can’t do anything to stop this, so you just let yourself get dragged to the bottom of the ocean. You finally reach the ocean floor, you slowly close your eyes and your mind starts to wander to the dark side which is the last thing anyone wants to happen.
As hard as it is to reach out for help when you feel as debilitated by anxiety, everyone should. Mindshift is an app that you can install on your device and take anywhere with you. Think of it as a coach that is always with you to help you with your anxiety. Mindshift has nine different sections included into it: first it has Anxiety 101 which will teach you a little more about your anxiety and the different types; second is ‘My Situations’ where you can add a situation that you are in and it will set up a step by step plan to help you cope with the situation; third is ‘Check Myself’ which can be helpful for you to rate your anxiety. These are just a few examples of what is on Mindshift.