As you get older, it seems as though the world has a funny way of getting smaller. As we age, it becomes more apparent that our experiences are similar to those around us. With the heightened popularity of social media, we have immediate access to breaking news, the latest trends, viral videos and instant personal updates.
Theoretically, you would think that immediate access would bring immediate comfort. However, some experts believe that immediate access can cause the opposite effect. Some experts believe that an increase in social media (and technology as a whole) is rapidly increasing our levels of stress and anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines anxiety as the anticipation of a future threat. An anxiety disorder can be described as having anxiety PLUS excessive fear. Fear can be described as our emotional response to a real or perceived threat.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Well… anxiety can present itself in many ways. Not to mention, everyone experiences the symptoms of anxiety differently. Some may have somatic symptoms, such as an upset stomach or sweaty palms, whereas others may have emotional symptoms such as crying spells or mood swings. Anxiety can also be expressed through physical and cognitive symptoms. Take a look at the list of symptoms below, have you ever experienced any of these?
Another indication of anxiety is the experience of panic attacks. For those who have had panic attacks, they’re incredibly overwhelming. Within minutes, abrupt fear and discomfort takes control of the body. You may feel like you can’t breathe, that you’re unable to calm down, or that you have a lack of control. What’s even worse is that panic attacks can happen when you’re calm or anxious – so there’s no specific situation that causes panic attacks. As before, take a look at the list of symptoms below. Have you experienced any of these?
If you answered “YES” to any of the symptoms above, chances are that you’ve experienced some degree of anxiety.
How Can I Help Myself?
For starters, breathe. When we’re in anxiety-provoking situations, our heart rate is elevated and our fight-or-flight response is activated. In these situations, it’s essential breathe and to breathe deeply. When you breathe deeply, you’re able to lower your heart rate and put yourself back in control.
To try deep breathing, practice these steps!
Another great way to manage anxiety is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is thought to be like meditation, but it helps you remain present instead of letting your mind wonder. Mindfulness aims to keep you “mindful” of your current state and situation. Listen to your body and evaluate how you feel.
To try mindfulness, practice these steps!
When Should I Talk to Someone?
Whenever you want. You don’t have to wait to experience overwhelming symptoms of anxiety to talk to someone. Regardless if you’ve had anxiety for one day or for four years – if you want to talk to someone, do it!
You may find that coping strategies aren’t always enough to manage your anxiety. In that case, you can always reach out to someone for support. Whether it be your family, your friends, a counselor, a spiritual leader or even a coach – talk to someone. Our greatest mistake with anxiety is to invalidate our concerns. Regardless of how minimal, irrational or dramatic our concerns might feel – don’t invalidate yourself. If you’re uneasy for any reason, reach out to someone who can help.
Remember that anxiety is normal, and it can even be a good thing. But anxiety can become a problem if it interferes with your day-to-day functioning. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact a professional or practice coping strategies.
I thought it would be a simple process. You know...adulting. In the Midwest, the common trajectory of your life once graduating high school looks like this:
Step 1: Graduate high school.
Step 2: Go to college.
Step 3: Have fun in college. Live life. Turn 21.
Step 4: Find a boy or girl you kinda like but aren’t too serious with because you’re young and will never have a chance to experience any fun again if you find the “one” too early.
Step 5: Graduate college.
Step 6: Find a job.
Step 7: Get married to that boy or girl and finally be okay with being serious.
Step 8: Have a baby.
Step 9: Find a house. *Note: Step 7-9 are sometimes not in that order. Depending where you’re located in the Midwest is dependent on the judgment you will receive based on this order.*
Step 10: Get into a routine, think about staying in your job for the next 40 years, get in a car pool, find couple friends, find Mom or Dad friends, stop avoiding your finances and come to reality of the lifelong student loan debt you have.
Step 11: Repeat Step 10 and pay off debt forever.
I’m not sure who came up with this trajectory, but this is the path that society, culture, or family may have helped you form. This is the “Template” that we feel like we need to follow in order to adult appropriately. Some of these may be different from person to person, but we all have some sort of template--that once you reach the final step, you will be happy.
At age 25, many young people are doing the things that go along with the template they’ve been told to follow. So why at 25, are young adults anxious, unhappy, depressed, and unfulfilled? Instead of telling you my opinion, I asked 10 Millennials of various ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities about where they were at at 25 and what they did not know. Here are the takeaways:
No one prepared us for this reality. We arrive blindly to our mid-twenties with the expectation that it’s going to be a smooth ride if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. So when we have the thoughts and beliefs like the Millennials did above, it’s hard to know what to do. We often turn inward toward blaming ourselves or turn outward and blame others or society.
There’s no one template no matter what age you are. Your life’s course is going to be different from mine, from your peers, from your loved ones. That’s okay.
1. Identify what expectations you have for your life or your age. Are they realistic? Are they based out of fear? What are more realistics expectations that you can begin holding?
2. Are your behaviors and daily habits in alignment with your values? Are the actions or intentions you are taking helping you reach the overarching goals of how you want to live your life?
3. What self-limiting beliefs are you holding? These beliefs make it hard to make positive changes in our lives. If we believe we are just this type of person, then why would we make an effort to change that?Examples include:
This seemingly quarter-life crisis where you’re comparing yourself to peers, struggling to adult, difficulty finding where you belong and waiting for you life to “start” are normal reactions to adjustment and new phases of life. No one told us this when we needed it, so take this information into the next phase. Remember that each phase of life will present new challenges and expectations that we have to identify and really look at. It’s scary and difficult because it’s new. The odds, however, of you overcoming them are pretty high.
Trust that you will figure it out. Reach out to support systems or community members to build support systems. You’re not alone.
Robin Helget, LSCSW, CPT,
It can be difficult distinguishing the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum when looking at an upset child, but it’s important to know they are not the same. Knowing the difference can help you learn how to respond to best support a child.
Meltdown Versus Tantrum
What is Sensory Meltdown
For some kids, a sensory meltdown can happen when there’s too much sensory information to process. The loud lunch room or a busy place like a shopping mall. For other kids, it can be a reaction to having too many things to think about. Multiple directions given to them at once or looking at a closet full of clothes, deciding what to wear.
Sensory meltdowns are a reaction to something around them that is beyond the child’s control. A sensory meltdown is a fight, flight or freeze response to sensory overload.
Meltdowns may look different for each child, it will also differ depending if the response to a trigger is a fight, flight or freeze response. Examples could be running, whining, hiding, avoiding eye contact, crying, hitting, pushing, punching, biting, spitting, or shutting down (not talking or moving).
Common Causes of Sensory Overload Meltdowns
Managing a Meltdown
Find a safe and quiet place to de-escalate. You can prompt the child by saying in a calm quiet voice, “let’s go to sit by the window for a few minutes.” During this time, remain calm and try not to talk too much. The goal is to reduce the input coming at them.
Teach the child calming and self-regulation techniques. Creating an sensory or anti-anxiety tool-kit specifically for the child is a very effective way to ease the meltdowns. The key to this is practicing with the child prior to meltdowns.
What is a Temper Tantrum
Tantrums occur when a child is unable to get what he wants or needs. Tantrums are controllable and it is common for a child to calm down and then get angry again. This is attention seeking behavior.
There can be many reasons a child has a temper tantrum. If you and a child are struggling with this behavior consult a professional who specializes in child behaviors such as a therapist, psychologist or doctor.