LISA M. SCHAB, LCSW Instant Help Books A Division of New Harbinger Publications, Inc. the anxiety workbook for teens activities to help you deal with anxiety & worry Publisher’s Note Care has been taken to confirm the accuracy of the information presented and to describe generally accepted practices. However, the author, editors, and publisher are not responsible for errors or omissions or for any consequences from application of the information in this book and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of the publication. Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books Copyright © 2008 by Lisa M. Schab Instant Help Books A Division of New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 5674 Shattuck Avenue Oakland, CA 94609 www.newharbinger.com Cover Design by Amy Shoup Illustrated by Julie Olson All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Schab, Lisa M. The anxiety workbook for teens / by Lisa M. Schab. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-1-57224-603-4 (pbk. : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 1-57224-603-0 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Anxiety in adolescence--Problems, exercises, etc. I. Title. BF724.3.A57S33 2008 155.5’1246--dc22 2008002238 10 09 08 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 contents Introduction v Activity 1 About Anxiety 1 Activity 2 The Chemistry of Anxiety 4 Activity 3 Peace Is Already Within You 8 Activity 4 Prevention and Intervention 11 Activity 5 How You Experience Anxiety 14 Activity 6 Your Anxiety Patterns 18 Activity 7 Having an Awesome Attitude 22 Activity 8 Worrying Is Worthless 26 Activity 9 All-or-Nothing Thinking 29 Activity 10 Overgeneralizing 33 Activity 11 “Should” Statements 36 Activity 12 Thought Stopping 40 Activity 13 What’s the Worst That Could Happen? 47 Activity 14 Cost-Benefit Analysis 52 Activity 15 Perfectionism 56 Activity 16 Letting Go of Control 60 Activity 17 Positive Affirmations 63 Activity 18 Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom 68 Activity 19 Seeing the Bigger Picture 72 Activity 20 Talking It Out 76 Activity 21 Writing It Out 80 Activity 22 Eating and Anxiety 84 Activity 23 More Exercise, Less Anxiety 89 iv Activity 24 Peaceful Movement 93 Activity 25 Progressive Relaxation 98 Activity 26 Centering Yourself 103 Activity 27 Mindfulness 106 Activity 28 Following Your Breath 110 Activity 29 Deep Breathing 114 Activity 30 Visualization 117 Activity 31 Meditation 122 Activity 32 A Higher Power 126 Activity 33 It’s a Cinch by the Inch 130 Activity 34 Problem Solving 135 Activity 35 Keeping Your Life in Balance 140 Activity 36 Staying Organized 143 Activity 37 Managing Your Time 148 Activity 38 Unexpressed Anger 153 Activity 39 Managing Fears and Phobias 158 Activity 40 Managing Panic 164 Activity 41 Separating Yourself from Other People’s Problems 169 Activity 42 Future Challenges 174 introduction Dear Reader, Welcome to The Anxiety Workbook for Teens. If you have been given this book, it is probably because you are experiencing anxiety in your life in some way and you are hoping to either get rid of it or learn how to handle it. If you are experiencing anxiety, you are normal. There is no one who doesn’t feel anxious at some time. It is even more common to feel anxious during adolescence, because so many changes are taking place in your body, your mind, and your emotions. Anxiety is a common and very treatable condition. Working through the activities in this book will give you many ideas on how to both prevent and handle your anxiety. Some of the activities may seem unusual at first. You may be asked to try doing things that are very new to you. Even if the suggestions seem really different from what you are used to, I encourage you to give them a try. The idea that seems the strangest may turn out to be the one that helps the most. You will also find that, while some activities work very well for you, others don’t help at all. That is normal, too. You are a unique person, and you will have to discover the activities that work the best for you. Please feel free to talk with a counselor or other adult about altering the activities in some way if you find a better method than is suggested here. Be creative, and trust your intuition about what feels good to you and what doesn’t. As you complete the exercises, there will be times when you are asked to draw. Many people get intimidated when they read the word “draw.” They think that they aren’t good at art and might be embarrassed by their attempts. Please be aware that there are no right or wrong ways to draw your answers. The purpose of drawing in this book is only to lead you to a better understanding of yourself and your anxiety. There is one thing that the activities have in common: they won’t help if you do them just once. They are tools, intended for you to carry with you and use over and over vi throughout your life. The more you practice using them, the better you will become at managing anxiety. Try to be patient with yourself as you take steps along your path to peacefulness. It may take time to find your answers, but be assured that they are there! You will find them as long as you stay on the path. Lisa M. Schab, LCSW 1 1 about anxiety you need to know Anxiety is a common feeling usually described as “uneasiness” or “apprehension.” At one time or another, everyone experiences anxiety. It is highly treatable and manageable. The feeling of anxiety has been described with many different words. Here are some of them: stress edginess apprehension the jitters worry jumpiness nervousness the shakes fear butterflies uneasiness freaking out panic disquiet agitation angst While everyone experiences anxiety, some of us feel it more often, some more deeply, some less frequently, and some less intensely. Your own experience of anxiety will depend on: Genetics—how your parents, grandparents, and ancestors experienced anxiety 1. Brain chemistry—the type, amount, and movement of the chemicals working in 2. your brain Life events—the situations you are faced with in your life 3. Personality—how you look at and interpret things that happen to you 4. Genetics, brain chemistry, and life events are factors that you have little or no control over. Your personality, or the way you perceive and handle life events, is something you have a great deal of control over—probably more than you realize. For that reason, most of the activities in this book will focus on working with your personality, helping you to understand the way you look at and respond to life and suggesting ways to do it that will help you to lower your anxiety level. 2 activity 1 Q about anxiety directions Your closest ancestors are your mother, father, grandparents, and great-grandparents on both sides of your family. In person, by phone, or in writing, interview as many of these people as you can. Ask them the following questions and record their answers on separate sheets of paper. Which of the following words would you use to describe anxiety? (Read or 1. show them the list on the preceding page.) Would you describe yourself as a highly anxious, moderately anxious, or rarely 2. anxious person, and why? Explain how you experience the feeling of anxiety in your body, mind, and 3. emotions. Explain what you do to manage anxiety when you feel it. 4. Describe how any or all of your responses may have changed over the course of 5. your life. Now ask yourself the same questions and record your answers here: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 3 activity 1 Q about anxiety Look back over the answers to your relatives’ interview questions. Describe any patterns you see in the answers. How do your relatives’ answers compare to your answers? What, if anything, do you better understand about yourself in relation to anxiety by having learned about your relatives? more to do 4 2 the chemistry of anxiety for you to know Our bodies respond to anxious thoughts by emitting stress hormones. This built-in biological reaction is called the fight-or- flight response. In prehistoric times, humans faced challenges different from those they face today. For example, a common challenge for prehistoric man may have been to walk outside his cave in the morning and find himself face-to-face with a huge, hungry lion. Human bodies are miraculous creations that are programmed to survive. When confronted with a threat such as a lion, the brain would send the signal, “Threat!” and the body would respond by shooting hormones, such as adrenaline, into the bloodstream at lightning speed. That made the body immediately stronger and faster so the human could either wrestle the lion (fight) or run away very fast (flight). When humans either fought or ran away, the physical exertion would disperse the hormones, and the body chemistry would quickly return to normal. In today’s world, our bodies still release stress hormones when we are faced with a threat. The chemical release raises our blood sugar, heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse; slows our digestion; dilates our pupils; and causes us to breathe more shallowly. While these changes prepare us for fast action, we don’t usually take it, so our hormones don’t disperse. You may become anxious when you look at the history test your teacher has just handed you and realize you don’t know any of the answers, but you are not likely to respond by fighting with the history teacher or running from the classroom. As you sit at your desk “stewing,” the anxiety just continues to build. Built- up anxiety makes us vulnerable to emotional and physical problems. To stay healthy, we have to find ways to avoid or disperse those chemicals. 5 activity 2 Q the chemistry of anxiety directions In the space below, draw a picture of yourself standing at the door of your bedroom first thing in the morning. Outside your bedroom door, draw or write all of the challenges you are confronted with on an average day that might cause your body to emit stress chemicals. 6 activity 2 Q the chemistry of anxiety more to do Look at your picture of daily challenges. Write them here in the order of how anxious they make you feel. Write those that make you feel most anxious first and those that make you feel least anxious last. Describe the physical symptoms you experience when you feel anxious about any of these things. 7 activity 2 Q the chemistry of anxiety Our bodies emit flight-or-flight response chemicals whether the threat we perceive is internal, external, real, or imagined. Which challenges in your picture are: internal? external? real? imagined? Do you react by physically fighting or physically running away from any of these threats? Describe how you react if you don’t fight or run away. Describe any realistic ideas you have about how you could release the buildup of stress hormones from your body. 8 3 peace is already within you you need to know Many people think that peace is something we have to look for outside of ourselves or work very hard to create within ourselves. Actually, peace is a natural state of being that is already within us; it is just hidden by all of the stress and tension we take in and focus on. When the renowned fourteenth-century artist Michelangelo was asked how he created the exquisite and powerful statue of David from a solid piece of marble, he replied that David was already in the stone; he simply chipped away the excess. Like the statue of David, your peace is already within you. You simply need to unearth it by peeling off the layers of anxiety that are covering it up. You cover up your peace every time you think of, or dwell on, a stressful thought. The thought does not destroy your peace, but it can cause you to forget it if you continue to dwell on the anxiety. 9 activity 3 Q peace is already within you directions Shade in the pictures of the floating clouds below with a pale blue crayon or another light color. The clouds represent your natural state of peace. Then take a few minutes to sit quietly, breathe slowly, look at those peaceful clouds, and feel that deep relaxation within you. Next, using a darker color, cover up the clouds by writing the names of people, situations, or things that make up the anxiety in your life. Write as many stressful things as you can think of.