Blog Archives

Too Much Anxiety?

 

A lot of teens today are super busy. They have tons of stuff going that they worry about: extracurricular activities, big tests, college applications, school projects, dating, friends, family stuff. Having so many things going on can cause stress: that’s totally normal. Everyone gets a little stressed from time to time. But sometimes stress can turn into anxiety, and too much anxiety can be bad.

Anxiety is essentially feelings of uneasiness, nervousness, dread, fear, or panic. People who are experiencing anxiety may experience a faster heartbeat or breathing, tense muscles, sweaty palms,  a queasy stomach, and/or trembling hands or legs. These feelings are caused by a rush of adrenaline that occurs as a defense mechanism when someone feels threatened in some way, like potentially feeling embarrassed, making a mistake, not fitting in, stumbling over their words, or feeling rejected.

Don’t you usually feel this way when you’re about to give a presentation, or go on a date, or take a big test? I sure do. That’s totally normal. Most people do feel that way when they’re about to do something big and unusual that they aren’t used to doing. Sometimes a little anxiety and nervousness can be helpful, and motivate you to do your best. But there are a lot of people who feel anxiety all the time.

Some people feel anxious and nervous for no reason at all, or about something that’s part of their daily routine. This is usually because they have an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders can let their nerves take over their life. They can feel so panicked and tense that they won’t go out with friends, or do things they enjoy. It can affect their happiness and quality of life.

If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, here are the signs:

  • You feel anxious, worried, or afraid for no reason at all
  • You worry too much and feel nervous about everyday events or activities
  • You’re constantly checking to see if you did something right
  • You’re so panicky that you’re unable to function in certain situations

If you think you have this issue, it can be embarrassing and hard to talk about. But realistically, you aren’t alone! SO many people have bad anxiety. Believe it or not, approximately 13% of teenagers just like you have bad enough anxiety that they need treatment and medication.

Here are some things you can do to help your anxiety:

  • See your doctor and get a checkup. They might be able to prescribe you some medication that will help.
  • See a mental health professional. They can definitely help you figure out exactly what you can do to feel more relaxed.
  • Get regular exercise, good nutrition, and enough sleep. Just being healthy can help your nerves.
  • Try some relaxation techniques. Find something that works for you, whether it’s doing yoga, breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music, or going for a walk.
  • Recognize your emotions and why you’re feeling that way. Sometimes just admitting that the situation is stressful and being prepared to deal with it can help you calm down significantly.

There are all different kinds of anxiety, too: OCD, phobias, social anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD are all forms of it. They can all hurt you and make your life miserable if you don’t get help. Experts don’t really know what exactly causes anxiety, but some of their ideas are: genetics, brain biochemistry, stressful life circumstances, and learn behavior. But no matter how it happened to you, it isn’t your fault. Just ask for help and start living your life to the fullest, without a worry in the world!

 

Rock Your Next Interview!

 

Ever have an interview? Did you get awkward, tense and ridiculously nervous? Well, you are not alone. Being interviewed is scary stuff.  It is literally being subjected to complete judgement on everything you say and do.  Still, no matter how much they suck, we all have to go through one at some point or another, whether it be applying for a job, student leadership, a scholarship, or any other position.  Since it can’t be escaped, you might as well learn to do it well.  Here are some tips that will help you to rock your next interview and hopefully calm your nerves:

  • Be yourself. Employers want to hire people that they will enjoy working with, so they genuinely want to get you know you. Be funny, interesting, confident, honest. Just be you. Don’t try to be somebody else, or something you’re not.
  • Be prepared. Think of some potential questions you might be asked before the interview, so you’ll be more prepared and you won’t have to think of everything on the spot. Most employers ask things like: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why should you be hired? Why do you want to work here?
  • Do your research. Look into the company you’re applying to. Make sure you know their mission statement and values if they have them. Recall a good experience you had with the company and bring that up. They want to know that you really do want to work there.
  • Know what they are looking for. If you’re applying for a job that requires a lot of interaction with others, then present yourself as a people person. If it is a labor job, show that you’re a hard worker.
  • Be confident and relaxed. Show them how awesome you are. Don’t be shy, go ahead and brag and talk about all the things you’re good at! After all, if you don’t think you’ll be hired, why should they even consider you? And, don’t talk in circles. Get right to the point and if you don’t have anything else important to add, just stop there.

Again, everyone gets at least a little nervous during interviews, and employers understand that. But really, just be straight up with them. You just need to tell them about yourself and why you want that job. No biggie… so just chill!

Peer Pressure: Don’t Give In!

Teens are always pressuring friends and people at school to do all sorts of things that aren’t cool. You may have had a friend or peer try and talk you into things like drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having sex, shoplifting, or cheating on a test or homework. They probably make you feel like you’re lame if you don’t do it, right? They usually say things like “it’s not that big of a deal,” and “everyone’s doing it.” Maybe they even say “you won’t know how you really feel about it unless you try it.”

Being pressured to do something is tough. On one hand, you don’t want anyone to think you’re uncool or too scared or too good to try something. You definitely don’t want to lose your friends. But on the other hand, you know what’s right and what’s wrong. You also know what’s illegal, and you definitely don’t want to get in trouble with the law and put your future at risk. So what can you do?

Here are some ways you can say no….

  • Just say no. Be straight up with them. Just say “no thanks,” or “nah dude, I’m good.” You can just walk away if you want, or change the subject. You really don’t owe them any explanation.
  • Give a reason. If you do want to give them an explanation, or if they keep bugging you about it, just tell them honestly why you don’t want to. If they’re pressuring you to smoke, you can say something like, “I’m trying to stay in shape for basketball” or “I have asthma.” Or you can even say something like, “I think smoking is gross. It’s super bad for you.”
  • Avoid the situation. If you’re invited to a party where you’re pretty sure there will be alcohol, it might be a better idea to just not go to that party. If you don’t want to participate, just stay away so you don’t get pressured all night.
  • Change the subject. Just change the subject and ignore the question. If someone offers you a joint, say something totally random like, “Oh hey, did you see what this person posted on Facebook?”
  • Reverse the pressure. If they’re making you feel like you’re lame, turn it back on them. Say something like, “I don’t need to do that to prove I’m cool” or “dude that’s lame, I don’t do that.”
  • Delay. If someone is trying to get you to go out with them and you don’t really want to, say, “Let’s be friends for a while so we can get to know each other better first.”

If someone is trying to push you do something that 1) is bad for you, 2) will get you in trouble, and 3) they know you don’t really want to do…. Are they really your friend? For real. Friends don’t do that. Friends respect each other, and you shouldn’t need to do stupid stuff in order for you “friends” to like you.

If your friends are trying to pressure you to do anything, anything at all… you should probably find a new crowd to hang with. Peer pressure is lame, don’t put up with it from anyone.

Thinking About Running Away?

In the United States, 1 in 7 kids between ages 10-18 will run away at some point. On any given day, between 1 and 3 million runaway and homeless kids are alone on the streets.

Kids run away for lots of reasons. Most of the time, it’s because of family problems of some kind, like big arguments or abuse. Sometimes they did something wrong and they’re too afraid to tell their parents, so they just leave. Sometimes it’s something else like a new baby in the family, a death in the family, their parents splitting up or a new stepparent comes along, or they start drinking or doing drugs, or maybe their parents are drinking and doing drugs.

If you’re thinking about running away, you’re probably wanting to do it to avoid your problems. But you need to know that running away and being on the streets will create a whole new set of problems for you. You might run out of money, you might not have any food and water, you won’t have anywhere safe and warm to sleep, and you might even get mixed up in the wrong crowd and get into some scary, illegal stuff. So, there are some other things you can do.

Instead of running away…

  • Express your feelings with friends and trusted adults, instead of keeping everything to yourself. Let them know what’s going on, and talk about it so you can come up with a better solution than running away
  • When you’re really upset, try calming yourself down by doing something you enjoy, like listening to music, writing poetry, writing in a journal, or exercising.
  • When you’re having a problem, make a list of ways you can fix it and make everything better.
  • Get help from an adult, like a teacher or counselor. Ask them to help you figure what to do, or somewhere else you can stay.
  • Talk to your parents about it and see if you can work it out as a family.

If you have a friend who wants to run away…

  • Warn them about how tough it will be to survive on the streets. Let them know that they won’t have enough money, food, or water, and that they could have to deal with some really scary stuff out there all by themselves.
  • Remind them that there are other ways they can deal with their problem, and that an adult will know how to help.
  • If your friend doesn’t want to tell an adult, tell an adult anyway. When your friend is out on the streets, you don’t want to keep that a secret. You aren’t being a bad friend by telling when they asked you not to… You’re probably saving their life.

Another thing you can do is call The National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929). Their hotline is open 24 hours a day, and your call is free from anywhere. You can also go on http://www.1800runaway.org and live chat. They’ll be able to help you find somewhere to stay.

If you live in Yamhill County, Youth Outreach has a Safe Shelter program for anyone 11-17. If you need help, you can come into our drop-in center Monday-Friday any time until 9 p.m., or call us at 503-538-8023. For weekends and after hours, you can call 1-866-538-8023 (free call from anywhere) and we’ll come pick you up wherever you are. We’ll find somewhere for you to stay.

Technology & Relationships

A lot of teenagers today are addicted to technology. It’s obvious. For those of you who have cell phones, odds are you find yourself spending a lot of your free time texting friends and checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and whatever other social media sites you have an account on.

Here are the statistics:

  • 75% of teens have a cell phone
  • 73% of teens are on a social media website like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace
  • 93% of teens spend time online
  • a typical teen sends anywhere between 50-100 texts everyday… sometimes even more

Sure, not all teens are addicted, and not all of you even have Facebook and a cell phone. But the numbers are high and they are continuing to get higher.

Texting and social media sites are great. They are quick, easy, and super convenient. Sometimes you might not have time to call your friend to see if they want to hang out later, or you aren’t sure if they’re busy at that moment and might not be able to answer the phone. It’s fun seeing pictures your friend posts of Facebook, especially the friends that moved away or you might not be able to see very often. Catching up with someone via texting can be convenient when you’re both busy and have different schedules. There’s nothing wrong with texting or social media… as long as you don’t become addicted to it.

A lot of teens today tend to rely on texting and Facebook too much instead of engaging in face-to-face conversations. Some people text friends all night long who they’ve never spoken to at school, or maybe the only thing they’ve said to each other in person is “hi” as they pass in the halls. Some people Facebook their boyfriend/girlfriend instead of going out on dates. Some people even text someone they’re sitting right next to instead of actually talking to them.

With that being said, teens are having a hard time developing social skills. Hiding behind the internet and texting is causing them to not develop communication skills they need for jobs, relationships, school, and life in general. When you need to confront somebody and have a tough conversation, it sure is easy to just text them about it, but that won’t do you any good when someday you have a disagreement with your spouse or somebody at work. Will you feel too awkward and uncomfortable talking to them about it in person?

“Texting and Facebook friendships” also usually lack depth, meaning you probably aren’t as close with that person as you think you are. You can text someone 100 times every single day, but if you can’t have a real conversation with them in person, you aren’t really friends. It’s better to have quality over quantity: more real friends that you hang out with and talk to in real life as opposed to having tons of friends text you everyday. If something happens to you and you’re upset, would you rather text someone about it, or have someone be with you who you can talk to and hug and cry with?

Another thing about texting and messaging is it’s really easy for things you say to be misconstrued. When someone’s reading a message, it’s sometimes hard to tell if their friend is teasing them or joking with them, or if they’re being serious. But in person, you can hear in the person’s voice and see in their actions whether they’re joking or not. A lot of fights can start because of messaging.

Just like drugs and alcohol, if you continue to text or go on Facebook constantly, it can become a serious addiction. Your brain can become used to using technology so much, and even want to use it more and more. So be careful to only text and go on Facebook in moderation.

Especially with Christmas is coming up, try setting your phone down for a few days (or even just a few hours) and spend some quality time with your friends and family instead of hiding behind your phone. Engage in real conversations, watch movies together, play games together, go for a walk, go to the mall, share meals together. There are plenty of ways to spend quality time with those around you!