Embarrassment Doesn’t Last Forever
When you’re a teenager, not only are you juggling academics, extracurriculars, and changes in your body, but you’re also learning how to balance responsibilities, social life, and expectations.
Naturally, you may begin to have feelings of embarrassment, stress, and pressure for the first time, which can lead to anxiety. These feelings are a normal part of growing up, and your peers are experiencing them too.
Anxiety is also natural, but it’s important to learn how to cope in a healthy way so your anxious thoughts don’t become chronic or begin to interfere with everyday life.
“I’m So Embarrassed.”
Feeling embarrassed, self-conscious, and awkward is, unfortunately, inevitable. At some point in life, everyone will experience something embarrassing, which typically results in blushing, sweating, and stammering at the realization. But even after the physical reactions subside, your feelings about the situation may linger—or worse, perpetuate anxious thinking or anxiety disorders.
- Maybe it was something you did on accident, like answering a question wrong in class or tripping and falling in the hallway.
- Maybe it’s the way someone responded to you, like your crush not liking you back or someone making fun of your shirt.
- Maybe it’s something more personal, like your body changing as your hormones shift and you enter puberty. This can cause unfamiliar biological responses, like sweating, body odor, acne, and more.
There are endless ways to get embarrassed, and every single person will. However, chronic anxiety about these events could indicate the need for some additional attention to prevent symptoms from worsening.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
To understand anxiety, you must also understand that fear is what drives it. Typically, individuals experience anxiety or anxious thinking because they are afraid of a certain outcome. Again, this is normal within reason but can become problematic in your daily life.
Typical anxiety shows up as worried thoughts, feelings of tension and nervousness, increased heart rate, sweating, nausea, digestive issues, and more.
Some individuals experience anxiety about the future, which is called worry, and can be short-term (a test tomorrow) or long-term (what career path you want to take). You may also have phobias or irrational fears that cause you to avoid something. A common example of a phobia is claustrophobia or fear of enclosed spaces.
Other common fears that cause anxiety in teens are things like public speaking, relationships, social perception, familial matters, and more. The good news is: if you’re reading this, you’re taking the necessary steps to learn positive coping skills and prevent your anxiety from worsening.
How to Cope with Anxiety
First, let’s cover a few coping habits that are ineffective and often harmful. These are things you should NOT do to cope with negative feelings.
- Avoid triggers altogether—like school, activities, or friends.
- Use substances like alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs that aren’t yours to numb feelings or mask anxiety.
- Isolate yourself from family and friends.
- Release negative feelings through harmful methods, like self-mutilation.
- Allow yourself to live in denial or bottle your feelings up and pretend you’re okay.
All these things can harm your ability to cope in the future and can lead to or worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and more. Most importantly, they don’t solve the problem.
Instead, set yourself up for success by learning to cope in healthy ways.
- Seek to understand your anxiety.
As mentioned earlier, anxiety is driven by fear. You can better understand your anxiety by understanding which outcomes you are afraid of.
If you aren’t sure what is causing your anxiety, you can attempt to narrow it down by paying close attention to the physical and emotional symptoms of your anxious thoughts. In some cases, it may be genetics, biology, and past experiences that are causing your anxiety. These things are out of your control, but you can learn to navigate the anxiety to improve your everyday life.
- Communicate openly with trusted adults and loved ones in your life.
Talk to your parents, grandparents, older siblings, and other trusted adults about your thoughts and feelings. Ask them to share some things they’ve been anxious about and what coping skills have worked for them. Not only will this open the door for support and further communication, but they may find that they need to incorporate some positive coping skills, too. Maybe you can even do some together!
- Address the situation head-on and desensitize yourself.
When you choose to address the fears causing your anxiety, you remove the power it holds over you. Anxious about public speaking? Join a student organization that involves public speaking. This probably sounds terrifying and like the opposite of what you want to do, but the more you expose yourself to the thing you’re afraid of, the less you will fear it.
- Take a deep breath and practice self-compassion.
Breathing exercises and other grounding techniques can help calm you down. When you are anxious, your body enters fight-or-flight mode, which includes shallowed breathing. By taking intentional deep and relaxed breaths, you help your body rebalance and calm down. A few examples of breathing exercises are:
From there, you can regain control of your thinking and even relax further by practicing self-compassion. A good way to show self-compassion is to practice affirmations, which help rewire our brains and break negative thought patterns about ourselves and the world. A few examples of phrases to practice are:
- I am worthy of love and respect as I am at this moment.
- I forgive myself and my mistakes don’t define me.
- I give myself permission to let go of the past.
- I am confident in my abilities to learn, grow, and achieve my goals.
Affirmations can feel silly sometimes, and that’s okay. Whether you say them to yourself in the mirror, write them down in a journal, or keep a sticky note in your planner to remind yourself—it’s your affirmation and you can practice it however it works for you. And you don’t have to share them with others.
See more examples of positive coping skills, access worksheets, or combine ideas to create your own methods.
- Lastly, talk to a professional.
If you are still having a hard time with anxiety, it might be helpful to talk to a mental health professional. These appointments give you an opportunity to talk to someone neutral about what you are thinking and feeling in a safe environment. Your therapist or counselor can help you process and explore your feelings, learn additional coping skills, and identify any extra support you may need.
If you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, talk to your parent or guardian about seeing a professional. You can also ask a trusted teacher or guidance counselor about school resources.
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