The high school years can be pretty challenging for growing teens, and while you, as a parent, know that it is just a phase, you’re probably also confused and wondering if your suddenly shy teen has something else going on.
Social anxiety, especially in teens, is often misunderstood as shyness. Keep reading to know how you can help your teen tackle social anxiety with a powerful technique – mindfulness!
Mindfulness for socially anxious teens
What Does Mindfulness Do?
In recent years, mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity, and yes, it can work wonderfully for almost all mental health issues, including social anxiety.
In fact, a study conducted in 2014 also revealed that when individuals practised mindfulness meditation, they reported having much lower levels of anxious feelings. Brain scans further revealed that mindfulness practices helped by activating three parts of the brain- the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula. This activation was what helped provide anxiety relief and also helped individuals stay more in control of their emotions and thinking patterns.
Managing Social Anxiety Mindfully
Mindfulness, if you haven’t tried it already, is a simple practice. It involves observing a particular single activity or emotion or state of being without judging it- simply observing it. When you’re mindful, you focus on just one thing at a time. This keeps your energy from being diverted to too many places, and this has been also found to help boost productivity levels at the workplace.
When it comes to anxiety and other similar disorders, mindfulness can help to a good extent. It helps you realize the situation, come to terms with it and helps you learn not to judge it or try to escape it.
For people suffering from social anxiety, mindfulness can help by getting them to realize that they are a part of an uncomfortable situation, but the situation isn’t themselves and is just a part of the day. This will help bring the focus back to the state of being, rather than the situation and its worst possible outcomes. Mindfulness, teamed up with deep breathing exercises, can really make a huge difference.
Practical Tips to Get Started
Introduce your teen to the concept of mindfulness and deep breathing. Start by encouraging him to do these when he’s not in social settings- just in regular day to day activities like finishing homework, taking a bath or even just having breakfast.
Get him to understand that the next time he’s in a social situation and finds himself feeling uncomfortable or anxious, he should focus only on the moment, and try to keep his thoughts from racing and imagining the worst possible scenarios and outcomes. At the same time, he should practise slow, deep breathing.
Photo Credit: Warren Wong Elijah O’Donnell Jesús Rodríguez