“Does My Teenager Have Anxiety?” (Guest Post By Noah Smith with Wellness Voyager)

Photo By: Pixabay

It is normal for your teenager to feel a little apprehensive about making a speech in class or learning a new school schedule, but sometimes these feelings cross the line into an anxiety disorder. Put simply, anxiety is “the body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations.” However, for some children, the anxiety they feel is debilitating, and could affect their sleep, concentration, ability to talk to others, school performance, and enjoyment of activities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adolescent anxiety has a lifetime prevalence of 25.1 percent in children 13 to 18 years old. What’s worse, if it’s not properly addressed and treated in childhood, anxiety could lead to other mental health issues like depression or addiction down the road. It is important that you and your child are able to differentiate normal worries from anxiety.

 

Recognize the Signs

Anxiety disorders will vary from teenager to teenager, but symptoms typically include excessive fears and worries, a feeling of inner restlessness, and a tendency to be extremely wary and vigilant. Even if there is no reason for your child to feel anxious and they are in a safe, calm environment, they may still experience continued feelings of nervousness, stress, and restlessness. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well, such as muscle tension and cramps, stomachaches, headaches, trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and sweating.

 

Anxiety Has Types

Anxiety describes the body’s reaction to a particular situation, but anxiety can be broken down into six different types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

GAD is categorized by excessive worry about events or activities, with the feelings being present almost constantly and floating from one situation to the next, such as fear of poor school performance or worries about what others think of them. Separation anxiety is worry about being away from the child’s parents, with fears often situated around parents not returning as promised or fear that the parent will be harmed. Although this type of disorder is most common in young children, it may be experienced by adolescents in response to stressful life events such as a divorce or deployment. If your child experiences sudden and intense periods of anxiety that come on unexpectedly, they likely have panic disorder, and may experience intense symptoms such as trouble breathing or feeling boxed in.

Fears or anxieties that result from something specific such as bugs, heights, or public speaking are referred to as phobias, and won’t affect your child unless they are directly confronted with the fear. OCD is a condition involving recurrent thoughts, impulses, or images that are hard to control. Compulsions are the behaviors the child partakes in as a means of distressing, such as hand washing or redoing an action or activity over and over again. The last category of anxiety disorder, PTSD, is the re-experiencing of a traumatic event via recollections, dreams, or associations.

 

Ways to Help

If your child is willing to talk about his or her fears and anxieties, be sure to listen carefully and be respectful of the way your child is feeling. Try to help your child trace their anxiety to a specific situation, experience, or fear in order to help reduce the anxious feelings. Keep reminding them of times when they were initially anxious, such as when they attended their first overnight camp or took their first high school exam, and help them to recall how everything worked out and their anxious feelings subsided.

It is important to recognize that sometimes outside help will be necessary. If the anxiety and fears last over six months, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recommends seeking professional advice via a doctor or teacher, who can then suggest an adolescent psychiatrist or other professional who specializes in the treatment of adolescent anxiety disorders. Continue encouraging your child to be open with you about their feelings, while simultaneously seeking treatment to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and the effect it has on your child’s daily life.

Anxiety is a common phenomenon that most children experience at some point in their life, but be attentive to feelings and fears that become intense and affect your child detrimentally. Keep the lines of communication open with your child, and if you notice a change in your child’s behavior, talk with them about it or seek the help of a professional.

 

-This guest post was written by Noah Smith with Wellness Voyager

Dear Jack: Your Specific Decision to Draw Us Both the Same Size, What It Symbolizes

6 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

You brought home a drawing last week from school that shows two boys who are the same size; one with brown hair and the other with darker hair.

After I saw the drawing, you explained, “Daddy, that’s you and me in the picture.”

Obviously, that make my heart smile.

The weekend before, you and I had went exploring together, making the most of the couple hours of it wasn’t raining on that Sunday afternoon. So I imagine how our recent quality time together might have had some influence on you choosing to draw a picture of the two of us.

Then I noticed something peculiar about the drawing: You drew us both the same size.

You’re a very good artist. You know detail. You knew that to make the drawing true to scale, that I should have been bigger than you.

This is something you have proven in every other single drawing you have ever done: Mommy and I are typically drawn as about the same size as each other, and you are always draw yourself much smaller than us.

But instead, you made an artistic decision to deliberately draw you and me the same size.

I believe that is your subtle way of revealing how you process our relationship…

Sure, I’m the parent. I provide for your physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. I ultimately guide you and discipline you on a daily basis.

Yet still, you see us me as a friend, too. You know that I’m 29 and a half years older than you.

But when we’re hanging out and having fun together, I seem more to you like a 6 and a half year-old friend.

It wasn’t a careless mistake that you drew us the same size. That’s what I believe, at least.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Live Up to Your Middle Name, Joy

1 year.

Dear Holly,

Saturday morning our family drove a few miles down the street to Ms. Aimee’s place, for her to take your official 1 year-old photos. She was your brother’s preschool teacher when he was 4 years-old. It just so happens that her roommate, Ms. Michelle, was his teacher when he was 3 years-old. But neither of them had met you yet.

Actually, it was Ms. Aimee who helped us find the American Girl doll, which was your main birthday gift from us.

During the couple of hours we were there, both Ms. Aimee and Ms. Michelle couldn’t help but keep bringing up what a doll you are; that you literally look like a doll that has come to life; especially when someone sees you in person, as opposed to seeing a picture of you.

They also noticed how content and happy you are. You’re also expecting the best out of people and the best out of the situation. You go along with whatever we’re doing with a big smile on your face as if to say, “Oh, I’ve never done this before. This is going to be fun!”

Mommy and I didn’t give you the middle name Joy simply because we thought it was a cute name for a little girl. We chose it specifically because, as Mommy explains it, “When you think of a little girl with Joy in her name, how could she not be a delight to everyone around her?

For sure, nothing about your middle name is ironic. You are truly a joy to be around.

I love to spend time with you and take care of you, because I know you are a source of light and life.

Yeah, I have to admit: Mommy and I did a great job naming you Holly Joy.

Love,

Daddy

This is 36: I Am Raising a Son who is a Different Boy than I Was

In hindsight, I now realize in some ways, I was a late bloomer. Back when I was a young boy, I was quiet. I lived in fear of anything outside my comfort zone. I didn’t have any self-esteem issues as a kid, but I really just didn’t care to peek outside of the box of what I already knew.

I remember how at the end of each school year that would pass, my teacher for that grade would tell my parents, “Nick has really come out of his shell this year…”

(And yes, that’s funny because my last name is Shell.)

Finally, by the time I got to 8th grade, I was out of my shell. When I graduated high school, I chose to go to college in Virginia, which was 8 hours away from where I grew up. And during those years, I chose to spend two summers on the other side of the world, teaching English in Thailand.

The way I see it, I was starting to make up for lost time. What things did I miss out on as a child because I was too… comfortable?

But now, I’m fundamentally attracted to what is outside of that same box I used to fear to peak out of. Like I recently said, I want to die as the most open-minded old man you know.

As for my son, he will not experience that same kind of character arc from his childhood to his adulthood. Because, he’s already there, when it comes to being eager to explore the world.

He’s not shy. He’s not quiet. He loves to experience and try new things.

I can easily spot some of the reasons he’s so much more mature than I was at his age.

For every year of his life, he’s traveled to California with my wife and me, to visit my wife’s side of the family. He “grew up in daycare” so he was socialized starting at 7 months old. Not to mention, he’s grown up in a major city. He’s used to the fast pace of Nashville.

I think what might help me understand why he and I are so much alike, despite the 29 and a half year age difference, is this:

He’s not the boy I was. He’s the boy I am now.

This is 36.

Top 10 Reasons My “Diet” is Consistently Successful (from a Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian Perspective)

I have a healthy relationship with food. I eat all throughout the day and I never choose to go hungry. I am happy with my weight. I am perfectly in the proper BMI range for my height, weight, and age.

Clearly, what I am doing is working, when it comes to my diet and lifestyle. But as I share my strategy today, I am deliberately not going talk about being a vegetarian or a vegan, in an effort to help more people. True, I can not deny that much of this info is what I taught myself about a healthy lifestyle only after I became a vegan in March 2013. Still, I promise to refrain from specifically mentioning not eating meat, eggs, or dairy…

Here are the top 10 reasons my “diet” is still successful:

1) I never choose to go hungry. If I’m hungry, I eat. Going hungry means I would subconsciously choose to fill up on empty calories later to make up the difference.

2) I know the difference between being healthy and being overweight. Our American pop culture has confused us, making us belief that as long as we accept our bodies and find beauty within, that we can ignore the fact we still may be physically unhealthy on the inside too; beautiful or not.

3) I know the sources of protein that contain 0% cholesterol. Vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds all contain protein, yet do not contribute any amount to the daily percentage of my daily cholesterol intake.

4) I chose good fats instead of bad fats. Cutting out all fat or even most fat is not healthy, as the human body thrives on fat consumption. However, fat from plants like avocados, almonds, and sunflower seeds contains 0% cholesterol.

5) I chose good sugars instead of bad sugars. Throughout the day, I am consuming fresh fruit, which is packed with natural sugar, along with fiber and some protein. That is good sugar. Bad sugar is any kind of sugar added to or processed with other food.

6) I find a way to exercise daily. Forget the gym. I don’t need it. I run, I ride my mountain bike, I walk, and I even skateboard. I do one or more of these things on a daily basis. I am always on the move.

7) I focus on a healthy lifestyle, not on losing weight. I have learned that by having a healthy relationship with food and exercise, I naturally have maintained my 20 pounds of weight loss from several years ago.

8) I am black and white about the gray areas. When I do chose to eat something unhealthy, I know how often and when- for those truly special occasions. In other words, I don’t keep potato chips, soda, or Oreos in the house. And no, a “truly special occasion” is not “whenever I’ve had a bad day.” I do not eat my feelings.

9) I have realistic standards and reasonable expectations. I don’t need 6 pack abs. I don’t need to compete with the looks of Hollywood. Instead, I focus on actually being healthy, not winning a beauty contest.

10) My “diet” is permanent. Going on a diet to lose to lose weight is an obvious set-up for the weight to return, once the diet is ended. The only way a diet will provide consistent results is to make it a permanent lifestyle, instead of a diet.

All of that information sounds reasonable, right? Who would actually argue with any of those 10 habits? It’s all legit stuff.

I’m not a physician. I’m not an expert. But I am healthy and I do know what I’m talking about.

My life, year after year, is the proof.

True, I am the Manly Vegan… but I can help non-vegans too.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Parental Review- Is It Kid Friendly? (No Spoilers)

Not all PG-13 rated movies are rated equally. While I had no reservations about my 6 year-old son seeing Jurassic World or Rogue One, I would not be okay with him seeing Suicide Squad or The Hunger Games or the Fast and Furious movies.

So where does Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 end up on this unpredictable gradient scale of PG-13 movies?

Ultimately, imagine combining the constant non-bloody fantasy violence of the Star Wars movies with the more mature plot lines of the Star Trek movies, mixed with the irreverence and casual profanity of the Shrek movies. Put that in a blender, and that’s the PG-13 essence of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.

I say this because Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is sprinkled with nearly every major “bad word” there is, except for those two classic biggies: “g.d.” and the “f-word.”

Perhaps there is a paradox in that if a child recognizes “bad words” when he or she hears them, and knows them to be “bad”, then the movie instantly becomes inappropriate, to a certain degree. But if a child doesn’t know the word, and doesn’t know it to be taboo, I would argue that ignorance might be bliss.

Likewise, the same could be said about the movie’s sci-fi plot line, which revolves around a god who makes his purpose to interbreed with one willing member of every other species he can, in an attempt to produce offspring who share his same powers.

Granted, this is a Disney movie- and I’ve noticed Disney specifically avoids any obvious sexual dialogue or situations in their Marvel movies.  I do feel it’s quite possible that this seemingly mature plot line could easily fly over the heads of many younger children.

It’s likely the language in this movie, which contains “guy humor” and poop jokes throughout, that would question most conservative parents about letting their child see this movie.

My job is not to be responsible for telling parents whether Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is appropriate for their children to see.

Instead, I simply want to provide the basic information to guide you making this decision for your child.

Do what you feel is right, based on the information I have provided today. I don’t judge you either way.

Obviously.

 

Facebook Makes Close Friends of Acquaintances (and Acquaintances of People You Actually Know)

In 2017, the need to “catch up” with people has essentially become obsolete. We all mutually stalk each other on Facebook, on a daily basis, becoming instantly aware of each other’s highlight reels.

So really, what’s there to know about another person that’s not already on Facebook?

And even if it’s a bad thing going on in our lives, it’s almost a requirement; that you owe it to your Facebook friends to announce via prayer request or “send positive thoughts my way”, regarding what difficult time you are going through.

So not only do your close friends and family members already know everything going on in your life, but so does the guy who transferred to your school in junior high; who if you actually ran into him in person, you wouldn’t be able to remember his name… but you could probably tell him what movie he took his kids to see last weekend.

The level of intimacy that we used to have with the people we love the most has, by default, become cheapened to a fast-food version of the real thing; in which people we barely know can have the same concept of knowing us as our close friends and extended family.

It’s universal and it’s easy now. Scrolling Facebook doesn’t require much of us, yet it ironically can distract us from spending true quality time with the people we do love the most; with people we are physically in the same room with.

Perhaps the strangest irony is when people do gather together in person to visit each other, but then end up talking about what other people are doing and saying on Facebook… probably due in part to the fact everything else to talk about between them has already been said on Facebook.

It is as if our real lives and our online avatars have swapped places- and over time, we haven’t noticed. In fact, the abstract version of life has become more comfortable than normal life.

Isn’t it safe to say, that at least to some degree, the universal familiarity that Facebook provides for us also causes us to have to put forth more serious effort to maintain relationships with the people we are close with, but who we don’t actually see on a daily basis?

Don’t we all sort of miss actually talking to people and having something to say or something to ask?

I do. I miss the nostalgia.

Facebook is the modern day Tower of Babel and we continue to build it to the heavens,

with our “likes” and status updates.