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4 reasons students and teens suffer chronic anxiety and the 3-minute way out

India Today logo India Today 03-08-2022 India Today Web Desk
4 reasons students and teens suffer chronic anxiety and the 3-minute way out 4 reasons students and teens suffer chronic anxiety and the 3-minute way out

Mental health remains a hush-hush issue in India despite the extremely high rate of anxiety, depression and other mental health issue among youngsters, especially aggravated during the hardships of Covid-19, coupled with the lockdown.

A survey conducted by UNICEF and Gallup in early 2021 with 20,000 children and adults in 21 countries found that in India, only 41 percent of young people aged 15-24 years in India said that it was good to get support for mental health problems.

This is a minority section and stands in contrast to the average of 83 percent in 21 countries where the survey was conducted. The stats ranged from 56 to 95 percent people aged 15-24 years who rated positive for seeing support for mental health problems.

The survey also found that one in seven people in this age range in India reported often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things.

Moreover, in an epidemiological study from India, 14.5% of adolescents were found to be suffering from anxiety disorders.

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Here are four main reasons students and teens suffer chronic anxiety:

1. ANXIETY OVER NOT BEING ABLE TO LIVE UP TO PARENTS' EXPECTATIONS

Most young people are afraid to fail their parents. And we believe that many parents too, are responsible for pushing their children into this chronic state of anxiety.

Parents often use fear and threats as a strategy to extract performance from their children not realising that they're pushing their children away from a creative process of thinking to one that is under duress and hence unintelligent.

This kind of threats from parents do not allow young people to explore life, career options and educational options. Most parents are concerned about pushing their children towards success and financial independence.

Parents tend to do this because their parents had in turn used the same strategy on them. Sadly, if parents do not break free of this burden of the psychological habit of anxiety, they will end up passing it on to their children as well.

2. PEER PRESSURE

The peer pressure to fit in among friends is the second major cause of anxiety among the youth. This longing to belong and the fear of being excommunicated is part of the ancient psyche of humanity. It emerges from our tribal mind set.

The sense of peer pressure is aggravated even more by the prevalence of social media that often builds a sense of competitiveness regarding how one's life 'looks'.

It is only when we can conquer this fear and the desperation to be accepted that we will come into a space of great self-worth and in fact find friends who will value us.

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3. BODY IMAGE

When a person increasingly obsesses about one's body image, no matter how their looks are, they will end up feeling anxious and less than good enough and that feeling of anxiety further distorts our perception and self-image.

The youth need to realise that we are much more than our body. Identification with our body alone would turn us into a silly, superficial, and anxious young person.

Imagine Einstein being anxious about his hairstyle in his teens. Surely, he would not have had the intellectual resources necessary for coming up with the theory of relativity in the years that followed.

4. FEAR OF RESPONSIBILITIES

The fourth major cause of anxiety among teens is the fear of having to grow up and handle responsibilities.

Many youngsters see adults or their parents living mechanical lives, and running night and day to make a living, to feed families, to fulfil desires.

When youngsters see this kind of a consciousness around them, they're convinced that life is more of a burden than a delight.

Children need to understand that whether we grow up or not is not an option but what kind of a life we live is an option.

Whether we live as stressed-out adults or with brilliant consciousness and a joyful mind is a choice we can make every day of our lives starting today, depending on how we use our brain.

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A 3-MINUTE PROCESS TO TACKLE ANXIETY

Our brain has two power centres -- one that is tiny and is hidden in the middle of your brain called the amygdala, while the other is the prefrontal cortex.

Both these parts are impacted by our thinking and emotion, and our emotion and thinking processes are in turn impacted by these two parts of the brain. It's a cyclic process.

The button-sized amygdala is responsible for our anxiety. When we move into thinking processes that build anxiety, our amygdala becomes excessively active. The more active it gets, the more easily we fall prey to anxiety the next time and the longer our anxiety continues.

The trick is to shift our neurological activity from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex, the region of our brain behind our forehead where we have the potential to see situations clearly and make wise choices.

When this region of your brain becomes more active, we become capable of clear thinking.

With the process below, we can effectively shift the activity of our brain from the amygdala to the prefrontal region in three minutes:

  • Kindly sit still with your spine erect. Gently close your eyes.
  • Practice conscious breathing for three cycles.
  • Let your exhalation be longer than your inhalation.
  • Recognize the exact emotion that is arising within you now. Is it irritation, anxiety, or confusion, or is it joy, gratitude, or love?
  • Observe the direction of the movement of your thinking. Is it entangled in the past or the future, or is it in the present?
  • Now, move your attention to your eyebrow center.
  • Visualise a tiny flame move from your eyebrow center into the middle of your brain.
  • Hold your attention on this flame in the middle of your brain for a few moments.
  • Whenever you are ready, you may gently open your eyes.

(Article written with inputs from Sri Krishnaji, Co-creator, Ekam)

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