A recent survey reported that Generation Z is recording higher numbers of mental health distress than any previous generation in history. Anxiety can manifest in students in a number of ways, from the more obvious signs of chronic stomach or headaches, to more subtle indicators, such as sleeping more or struggling to perform within a traditional school setting.
Kris from @Mind Set discusses how anxiety begins, and three methods to deal with it at its roots. Anxiety in its basest form typically occurs when a person is living in a future or past moment, mired in what HAS happened, or what COULD happen, instead of what IS happening. At the root of this is often a traumatic experience that has not been fully recognized, and is continuing to impact the person’s neurological state. Traumatic experiences don’t have to be big and flashy; simply being teased for a new haircut can go down as traumatic in the brain.
To address anxiety at its roots, Kris says, “When you go through a trauma, you need to be able to fully process it.” Practicing self-awareness will help target anxiety from its roots. However, we don’t always know something was traumatic for us until it begins affecting us down the road. Kris’ three methods for combating anxiety are as follows:
First: Take a deep breath. “This will ground you where you are because obviously the tendency has been for your mind to start focusing elsewhere. Your focus is on that idea, even though you’re here now. Nothing’s actually going on now that should be difficult, but it is. So you take that deep breath, and that will really help you to come back to the present a little bit.” Along with that deep breath, we can also try to tune into one or two senses to trick our brain into staying in the present moment. What is the wind doing? What do we smell? Often, once we’re in the moment, we find we can handle whatever comes our way.
Second: Speak your truth. Anxiety often comes where there’s a disparity between who we are and the face we show to the world. Psychologists call this the “division of self.” Kris says: “Listening to yourself-- your true self-- inside of you is the most important thing you can do, because we all need to validate ourselves.” Here at CMASAS, we encourage our students to develop and embrace their own unique genius. Offering a safe, creative space is essential for young minds learning to build an authentic life they love, and is something we are proud to provide as a worldwide online school.
Third: Give yourself time. We all take different amounts of time to unpack and process certain experiences and emotions. Most students with chronic anxiety are so caught up in having to be perfect and do everything right that they somehow feel ashamed for their natural and human emotions. Allowing space to grieve, journal, or express how certain experiences impact us provides opportunities to grow and let go of any negative or self-sabotaging emotions. “When you get through all of that carnage,” Kris promises, “you’ll find that you’re much, much more relaxed.” This is one of the reasons CMASAS offers a completely student-paced program. We’ve found when students take ownership over their time and achievements, it breeds confidence and faith in their own unique genius that translates into their lives.
What has been your most helpful tool in battling anxiety?