Prom-Season Stress and Anxiety: It doesn’t Have to be That Way
Calm Yourself via These Easy Steps
Breathing: Taking deep belly breaths signals your mind and body that you are safe. Deep breathing helps the nervous system transition from an anxious state to a relaxed state. Just be sure to draw breath from the bottom of your lungs, rather than your chest. Some people find a combination of breathing and counting to be extra helpful (see resources at the end of this article).
“Fake it until you become it”: Ever notice how Wonder Woman poses with her hands on her hips? Or how marathon runners often cross the finishing line while raising their hands in victory? If the thought of dressing up to join your friends for the prom terrifies you, adapt a confident posture or hold a power pose—even for just two minutes. This can lower your body stress and increase your feelings of confidence.
Talk to someone who ‘gets’ it: It can be a life saver to share your anxious feelings with a good listener. Look for someone who says, “I understand,” or, “I’m here for you.” Avoid people who tell you to calm down, rush to give you advice, or one-up your story with a tale about the last time they themselves felt anxious. If nobody comes to mind, think of people you trust (at home, at school, among your friends) and be clear and prescriptive about how they can help you.
Shush that inner negative voice with past successes: A big part of anxiety is an internal voice telling you that you cannot handle the upcoming event or deadline. Remind yourself of times when you did overcome challenges or you did something really well. Remembering past successes can help you to conquer your worry and fear.
Prom. Testing. Graduation. College applications. These can be daunting—yes. But by practicing some simple anxiety fixes, by creating and using your own toolbox, you can enjoy this fun and promising time in your teenager’s life.
https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en This TED talk—one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time—explains the research on power posing
http://www.cmhc.utexas.edu/stressrecess/Level_Two/breathing.html Check out this set of instructions on how to practice deep breathing by the University of Texas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgISWYYsv5g This video offers instruction on “square breathing” — breathing paired with counting.
This article was researched and written by Lea Forster, LMHC. As a program director, Lea coordinates our Team Fourteen (teen substance use) and our Student Assistance (school-based) Programs.
The Student Assistance Program provides services in local middle and high schools, while Team Fourteen helps teens and their parents with emerging substance use concerns.
These youth programs are funded by the United Way of Mass Bay and the Merrimack Valley and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, respectively.
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