Living With Anxiety Part 2: 5 Practices That Will Help Your Daughter Manage Anxiety

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Alright, let’s get to the good stuff! 

In my last blog, I shared 8 questions that have helped me identify anxiety-driven behavior in myself and my teen daughters. I hope that it sparked a meaningful conversation between you and YOUR daughter, and maybe you’re just now realizing that she’s struggling with anxiety.

In part 2 of this blog series on living with anxiety, we are going to talk about 5 practices that you can teach your daughter that will help her manage her anxiety. Because let’s face it….you can’t cure anxiety, pray it away, or ignore it, so we need to give our girls the tools to empower them to take control of their anxiety instead of letting their fears control them.

I also think it’s important to note here that living with anxiety does NOT make you broken, so the goal is not to completely eliminate fear or “fix” anyone. My anxiety is still very real even though I’ve been using these practices for years. The difference is that now I can recognize and control my behavior that used to be a knee-jerk reaction to my anxiety.

I am not a medically licensed professional qualified to diagnose an anxiety disorder or prescribe any treatments. I am simply a woman who suffers with anxiety herself and have found success with implementing certain habits to help me manage my anxiety. My purpose here is only to share something that has worked for ME, but it is certainly not offering a diagnosis nor is it the only way to treat or manage an anxiety disorder.

So… What are the 5 practices?

1. Teach your daughter the powerful act of gratitude

Gratitude is the antidote of fear. It literally changes the chemical circuits in your brain from fear to rationality. Consider asking her to name 3 things she is grateful for daily. There are a bunch of cool gratitude journals out there to help guide you (and her!) through a practice of naming things to be grateful for, big and small, every day. This serves as a great reminder that there is always something worthy of gratitude, even on days that

2. Meditate

We make 35k decisions a day (yes, that’s a real statistic), so it’s important to have a moment of quietness to focus on just our breathing. But sitting still can be so hard for teens…..so I bribe mine. Listen, I’m trying to figure this parenting thing out too and maybe this isn’t the BEST way to parent, but trust me it works. I recommend using the app Headspace and asking your girls to use it for 5 min a day – if they do, the next Starbucks run is on you (or whatever they like)!

3. Question her beliefs

Anxiety is most often driven by limiting beliefs. Ask your daughter to write down what she believes to be true about her anxiety (i.e. If I’m not making straight A’s then I’m a failure) and 3 counter-arguments that would make her anxiety false (i.e. If I try my best then I am successful). This will open her mind to an alternative belief system and help her focus on the positive.

4. Connect with others

When anxiety is a secret, that’s when it holds the most power over you. Encourage your daughters to communicate their anxieties and fears with you, their friends, or other people they trust. They will learn that many of their loved ones experience the same feelings and emotions. When they bring their fears to the light, they will no longer be bound by the darkness, and will have an easier time taking control of their anxiety.

5. Activate the rational side of their brain

Anxiety happens in the emotional side of our brains, so activating the rational side, or “thinking” side, will help their anxiety subside. Next time your daughter is having anxiety activate her rational thinking by asking her to name something like 5 states she as been to, then 4 of her favorite friends, 3 places she wants to vacation, 2 of her favorite foods, and 1 person she loves (make sure she knows the correct answer better be you, LOL!).

Let me just say that the best way to teach these practices to your girls is to model the behavior yourself. These 5 practices aren’t just for teenagers, they’re for you too mama! And Lord knows that our kids don’t listen to a single word we say, but they most definitely pick up on ALL of our behaviors (and why is it that they’re like a magnet to all the least flattering ones??).

I hope these 5 practices will be helpful to you and your girls. If you try any of them out, I would love to hear about it! Share your story with me on social media (@dawndahlby), shoot me an email, or leave a comment right here!

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