Manage Anxiety and build self-esteem

16 September, 2022

Building YourToolbox: Equipping yourself to manage anxiety and build self-esteem

By: Meagan Lombardi, B.A (Soc), M.A.

Adolescence is marked by changes that make adolescents self-conscious and insecure around others.  This can lead to feelings of confusion, frustration, self-consciousness, and discomfort.  With this in mind it is understandable and COMPLETELY NATURAL for adolescents to experience feelings of anxiety as they navigate this period of life.

Anxiety alone can be quite disruptive and at times debilitating, the experience of which can be exacerbated during adolescence, contributing to a diminished perception of self, and placing adolescents at a greater risk of developing low self-esteem.  Adolescents who experience anxiety often feel ashamed, weak, or flawed which perpetuates their engagement in self-criticism and negative self-assessments that suggest they are incapable and unworthy.

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While the experience of these feelings is very real, they BY NO MEANS accurately represent who an adolescent is, what they are capable of, or what they deserve.

In the midst of managing all this adolescents remain thoughtful, compassionate, capable individuals who intentionally seek to support and encourage others despite often feeling stigmatized themselves.  In fact, it is their awareness of their own experiences and feelings that aid their ability to empathize with others.  Offering the same sensitivity to themselves, however, proves challenging.

Anxiety by nature seeks out comfort and certainty.  Adolescence is a stage of life that notoriously creates uncertainty and discomfort.  As you can imagine this can be quite challenging as it puts adolescents in a state of conflict with themselves on a daily basis.  This can be EXTREMELY draining leading to self-isolation and the masking of one’s true authentic self.  This is not sustainable over time and can create greater confusion.  While in this negative state adolescents can lose trust in themselves.  Opportunities for curiosity and learning are then interrupted by the need for comfort and certainty.

So how can adolescents be supported as they navigate these feelings and what tools can assist them as they seek to minimize anxiety and build self-esteem?

  • Creating space for uncertainty and doubt to be discussed openly and without judgement is crucial. This normalizes experiences rather than stigmatizing them allowing adolescents to let down their guard and view themselves in a less judgemental way.
  • Parents are encouraged to share their own experiences with discomfort and uncertainty. Adolescents often feel alone in their experiences.  By sharing, you help them challenge this perspective and open the door for communication between you and your child.
  • Group environments are another great source of support for adolescents to normalize their experiences. An added bonus of group environments is that they are typically designed around certain age ranges and therefore members not only relate to one another’s experiences but also to the stage of life they are navigating.
  • Encourage strength identification and celebration. We all possess unique strengths that can be used to our advantage.  Understanding what these strengths are and trusting in them builds our self-confidence and the belief we can handle what comes our way.  As a result, adolescents are more willing to take risks and lean into discomfort allowing them to create opportunities to continue building trust in themselves.
  • Practice self-compassion. When we are attentive, understanding, and kind to ourselves, we are better able to nurture our needs, honour our experiences, and acknowledge the effort we are putting forward.

All these tools will ultimately work toward helping an adolescent settle into a more a positive view of themselves.

Finally, remember there is no shame in seeking out help.  Psychotherapy can give you the tools you need to get to a better state of mind. You are welcome to contact Harmony Counselling for a free phone consultation and guidance today!

Get more information, recommendations and parenting strategies in our Blog PostTemper Tantrums
Manage Anxiety and build self-esteem Psychotherapy Theraphy Mississauga Oakville

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