What is this booklet about?
TeenTalk volunteers have created a few strategies you might find helpful during the hard times. Each volunteer at TeenTalk has their own unique story and their own personal experiences and struggles, which is what makes TeenTalk such a great resource. We are teens between the ages of 15 and 19, and we know what it’s like to face some of the same struggles. Some may have struggled with something similar to you. You are not alone and we at TeenTalk are here for you. What you will find in this "booklet" are coping strategies our TeenTalk volunteers found or have used to work through tough moments. Please note that we are teens/peers and not professionals. We have gathered ideas we think are helpful and not every suggestion will fit you and that is OK. Use and do what is right for you!
Content warning: This "booklet" is intended for support and to provide suggestions around coping with difficult situations. It includes references to anxiety. If this puts you at risk of experiencing trauma, flashbacks, or any other reaction you may have to emotionally stressful subjects, consider a safety plan. Do not read this "booklet" if the subject matter puts you at risk of being triggered, or make sure to read it when you feel you are in a good place mentally and emotionally. If you do read it and find yourself having a difficult time with emotions, memories, etc. or are feeling triggered by the "booklet," look toward a good friend, family member, counselor, or the Crisis Line (1.800.626.8137) to discuss it with or try finding a good outlet like a sport, book, art, or other favorite pastime. Remember to take care of yourself as well as others!
A message from a TeenTalker with anxiety
"I’ve felt a lot of anxiety in my life and if you don’t take time for self-care it can make everything harder. The times I do the best in school is when I am taking care of myself because anxiety can be crippling and make it difficult to get work done when you think of all the things you have to do. It can also be hard if you have social anxiety because the longer you are away from people the more your brain can create stories and run with it. I try to volunteer several times a week so that I make sure to hang out with people even if I feel really uncomfortable talking to people. I try to do self-care, such as running and cooking healthy foods, because TV can really be a crutch and make things worse. It usually numbs rather than solves problems, at least for me. But when I take care of myself and push myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, I don’t feel like I am out of control and can’t handle my anxiety. It is a lot of work keeping good mental health."
What's the difference between stress and anxiety?
What is it like to have anxiety?
Imagine wanting to go on a spring break trip to visit family but thinking about all of the details and things that need to be done to be able to go and not being able to think about it because every time you do you feel overwhelmed, and a deep sense of dread.
Imagine you are talking to your friends and their biggest worry is their test score and reflecting on yours and having your biggest stressors be whether or not your shoes are in style or whether you should have gotten the other color, if you talked too much today or too little, if people will ask you questions that you don’t know the answer to, if you will have to call and make an appointment by phone, as well as your test grade.
How to get a referral to a mental health professional
To get a referral, talk to your doctor. If you don’t have insurance, you might qualify for free/reduced healthcare. To see if you are eligible, you can check out Washington Health Plan Finder. However, many websites now let you do a self referral. Find a counselor and ask them what you need to do to get an appointment.
If you have Medicaid, you can go online and look for a psychologist and find one that you like that is close by. Call them to see if they have space and either do a drop-in intake or set one up with the receptionist. An intake is a first appointment so they can see who you’d possibly match well with as far as psychologist/psychiatrist and whether you are interested in group therapy, medications, etc.
Identify your triggers
Some discussions, topics, life events, and things in our environment can trigger anxiety. When you're triggered, you might notice that you are overly observant and aware of your surroundings, are feeling a sense of panic in a moderately calm environment, or are feeling like you get overwhelmed and stressed easily. Sometimes it's really obvious what triggers us and sometimes it's not. If you don't know what's triggering your anxiety, keep a journal and write down:
Review your journal often and see if you notice any patterns. That way you can make a game plan on how to either avoid those triggers or how to reduce your anxiety symptoms if you can't avoid them.
If you need a journal, you can get a free one from us!
Practice healthy coping skills
Long-term coping skills
Affordable places to get art supplies
How to tell your friends or family about your anxiety
Depending on who you want to share this with, here are some different things you can consider when sharing with your family or friends:
Before talking to them
If they do not understand ...
Helping a loved one with anxiety
Things you can say and do if someone is experiencing an anxiety attack
Things to avoid saying or doing if someone is experiencing an anxiety attack
How to recognize when someone you know is using unhealthy coping skills