6 Effective Anxiety Coping Strategies for Teens

A group of diverse teenagers in sportswear sit on the grass doing stretching exercises

In an era where the pressure on teens is more intense than ever, it’s hardly surprising that the topic of teen mental health is increasingly coming to the fore. From social media stressors to academic pressures, today’s adolescents are navigating a complex world that can trigger anxiety for many.

Recognizing the importance of equipping our youth with the tools they need to manage anxiety, this article will delve into six effective anxiety coping skills for teens.

Understanding Anxiety in Teens

Before we explore coping strategies, it’s essential to understand what teen anxiety looks like. Unlike the normal nervousness everyone feels from time to time, anxiety can be overwhelming and persistent, affecting a teen’s ability to function in daily life.

The symptoms can be both physical (like increased heart rate and sweating) and psychological (such as persistent worry and concentration difficulties).

Coping Strategies for Teens

With the teen mental health crisis at an all-time high, recognizing and addressing anxiety early is crucial. Here are some strategies and ways to implement those strategies for teens:

1. Mindfulness and meditation

One of the most effective tools in combating anxiety is mindfulness. Mindfulness involves staying present and fully engaging with the here and now, without judgment. Meditation can be a structured way to practice mindfulness, encouraging relaxation and stress reduction.

Deep breathing exercises

A subset of meditation, deep breathing exercises can activate the body’s relaxation response. Techniques such as the 4-7-8 method, where one breathes in for four seconds, holds for seven and exhales for eight, can be particularly effective in managing acute anxiety.

Body scans

Body scans are another mindfulness exercise that can help teens become more aware of their physical sensations and release tension that they may not even realize they are holding.

2. Physical activity

Regular physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. It can boost endorphins, improve mood and distract from worries.

Encouraging team sports

Team sports not only provide exercise but also social interaction, which can be a great way for teens to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging.

Yoga and stretching

Yoga and stretching can be particularly beneficial for anxiety as they combine the physical benefits of exercise with the mental benefits of mindfulness.

3. Creative expression

Creative activities can be a non-verbal way for teens to express their thoughts and emotions, which can be particularly helpful if they find it difficult to articulate their feelings.

Art and music therapy

Whether it’s painting, drawing, playing an instrument, or listening to music, art and music therapy offer an outlet for expression and can be incredibly therapeutic.

4. Structured problem solving

Anxiety can often be a response to perceived problems or challenges. Teaching teens structured problem-solving skills can help them feel more in control.

Breaking down problems

Encourage teens to break down their problems into manageable parts and tackle them one at a time, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the bigger picture.

5. Social support

Teens should be encouraged to talk about their feelings with someone they trust. Social support can come from family, friends or adolescent mental health services.

Peer support groups

Peer support groups can be a comforting space for teens to share their experiences with others who are going through similar situations.

6. Professional help

Sometimes, anxiety can be too much to handle alone. Seeking professional help from adolescent mental health services can provide teens with the support they need.

Counseling and therapy

Counseling or therapy can offer a safe space for teens to explore their feelings with a professional who can provide coping strategies and support.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed as part of a treatment plan for anxiety. This should always be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Integrating Coping Skills into Daily Life

Implementing these strategies requires commitment. Here’s how to make them a part of everyday life.

Routine practice

Encourage teens to make a habit out of their chosen coping strategies. Whether it’s daily meditation or regular physical activity, consistency is key.

Combining strategies

Sometimes, combining different coping skills—for example, exercising while practicing deep breathing—can be more effective than using them in isolation.

The Role of Parents and Caregivers

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in supporting teens through anxiety. Here are some ways they can help.

Open communication

Maintain an open line of communication. Let your teen know that it’s okay to talk about their feelings and that you’re there to listen without judgment.

Model coping skills

Model healthy coping skills yourself. If your teen sees you managing stress in a healthy way, they’re more likely to adopt similar strategies.

Encourage professional help

Encourage your teen to seek help if they’re struggling. Remind them that there’s no shame in reaching out to adolescent mental health services.

Resources and Further Support

With a list of coping skills for teens at hand, the next step is knowing where to find additional support.

Online resources

There are many online resources available that provide information and tools for managing anxiety, such as apps that guide users through meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Local mental health services

Research local mental health services that specialize in adolescent care. Many offer a range of services from counseling to group therapy.

Practical Skills and Ask for Help

Arming teens with a set of practical anxiety coping skills can make a significant difference in their lives. By fostering resilience through mindfulness, physical activity, creative expression, problem-solving, social support and professional help, we can help teens navigate their challenges with confidence.

Remember, the teen years are a critical period for mental health development. Investing time and resources into teaching coping skills not only addresses the immediate needs but also lays the groundwork for healthier adulthood.

If you’re concerned about your teenager’s mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for guidance. At Granite Hills Hospital, located in West Allis, Wisconsin, we provide a continuum of care that includes inpatient and outpatient programs for teens. If you are interested in treatment for your teen, view our services to learn more or call us today at 414-667-4800

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