Young adult woman with anxiety laying on couch with hand over her eyes

Young Adult Anxiety: Navigating Through Difficult Times

Young adult anxiety is becoming more prevalent in today’s world. We all go through difficult times but young adults today are dealing with high expectations and pressures that are different from previous generations.

As a therapist in Rockland County NY, I notice many more young adults looking for support. A genuine desire toward self-understanding and growth exists in all of my clients. It is both inspiring and exciting to see that despite hardship and pain, there is also hope and courage. 

Navigating through difficult times while also managing young adult anxiety is possible. Maintaining hope, finding ways to harness positivity, and believing in a better future are part of the formula.

In addition, learning about anxiety symptoms, caring for yourself, and seeking support through counseling for young adults can help.

Why Is Anxiety in Young Adults So Common?

Young adult anxiety is so common in part because young adulthood is a time of much development. The brain is not fully formed until approximately age 25 or 26 and this creates a period of vulnerability. A predisposition to anxiety and experiencing anxiety symptoms early in life are connected with an increased risk for developing anxiety in young adulthood.

Anxious young adult woman with hand on her head.

In addition, young adults today are being exposed to consistent stressors. For example, 24/7 access to social media, world events, and negative news impact feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.

It is hard to feel stable and secure in an environment where things are in a constant state of change.

Tips to Help Deal with Young Adult Anxiety

It can be hard to figure out what to do and how to deal when you are going through tough times. Below are some ideas to help you take control of worrying and free up mental energy and space.

Learn What Triggers You to Worry

What do you tend to worry about? What themes and patterns do you notice when you worry? Learning what triggers anxiety symptoms can help you outline a prevention and management strategy.

For  consider a situation in which you are online job searching for a new position. And you experience anxiety so strongly that it prevents you from applying.

Your mind is filled with thoughts that you aren’t qualified, that you may not like this position once you get hired, etc.

This may be only one situation, but there may be others in which you have similar thoughts. And each time it prevents you from moving forward and making desired changes in your life. Learning what these patterns are can help you learn new ways around them.

Is there a particular fear that continues to arise? Or feelings of low self-confidence? Or a negative belief about yourself that you aren’t good enough? Where do these thoughts stem from? And how do they influence your anxiety and actions? 

Once you are aware of some triggers to anxiety, you can ask yourself what you need in order to manage them. This could look like reframing some negative thoughts or introducing positive coping tools. You may also consider rearranging a few priorities in your life.

The key here is to just be aware of what is happening internally for you. With this knowledge, you can then prepare to find a healthy and beneficial way to deal with it.

Sometimes you will be able to do this alone. Other times, it could be beneficial to seek support from someone else like a family member, friend, or professional.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are effective in managing and reducing anxiety in young adults. One of the best ways to relax is to practice breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths of fresh air over several minutes increases oxygen flow to your brain. 

young adult woman with anxiety sitting down in a meditation practice

The increased oxygen flow then helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system is responsible for inducing a sense of rest and relaxation in the body.

Taking a few moments during the day to regulate your breathing can go a long way in managing overall stress. 

Other relaxation techniques can include doing relaxing activities that you enjoy. Such as a hobby, spending quiet time with yourself or pet, listening to music, engaging in light exercise, etc. 

Experiment with a few relaxation exercises and activities to find out what works best for you. Then make an effort to practice your favorite relaxation technique several times a week for maximum benefits.

Improve Decision Making and Problem Solving Skills

Anxiety in young adults is unique in that young adulthood is a life stage in which you make significant life decisions. A lot of anxiety and worrying often stems from trying to figure out if you are doing the right thing.

Are you making the right choices for yourself, your family, your career and finances? These are common worries. You don’t want to make mistakes, but you also know that mistakes will naturally happen. This is expected and encouraged at times because this is how we learn and grow. 

However, having a solid framework to work from increases opportunities for successful solving of complex problems. In addition, making the best and most helpful decisions for your life will leave you feeling more confident and less anxious. 

For example, consider a situation in which you need to decide on moving to another city for a job opportunity. There are many factors to consider here. But if you aren’t sure on how to go about making this decision, you may find yourself very stressed.

Learning and improving upon your decision making and problem solving skills will guide you through many challenging moments. Don’t worry if you haven’t felt confident with your decisions in the past. There is always an opportunity to learn how to make better ones moving forward.

A helpful strategy is to take the time to gather, evaluate, and analyze information. Take the time to gather facts and examine how a particular choice will influence your life in both positive and negative ways.

Don’t be afraid to explore all options even if they aren’t ideal. It will lead you toward being able to navigate through all possibilities and choose what works best.

Overtime, you will build confidence in yourself and believe in your capacity to make significant life choices.

Turnoff Notifications and Manage Interruptions

Frequent alerts and notifications have the potential to negatively influence your emotions, concentration, and daily productivity. Oftentimes the effects are so subtle and may not at first be attributed to cell phone use and the notifications.

But, research is showing that social media and constant access to terrible news increases anxiety in young adults. Moreover, notifications about things that are irrelevant to your personal day to day plans can distract, disrupt, and reduce productivity.

While you may be hesitant to remove all of your notifications, consider turning off a few of them. The key here is to begin to eliminate interruptions that keep your mind and body feeling tense and on edge.

Build and Maintain a Social Network

Young adults sitting around a table talking

Humans are social beings and personal interaction and socialization are incredibly important. Make time to communicate and check in with your friend group.

Go to places and events where you have the opportunity to be social and build new connections. 

Since anxiety in young adults is on the rise, make sure to spend time with people who inspire you and encourage you to be well and happy. Talking to others can remind you that you are not alone dealing with life’s difficulties.

There are people out there who may be going through similar obstacles or have already overcome them and can help.

Be Flexible: You Can Make Changes

A scary part of dealing with anxiety in your 20s is a feeling that things will always be this difficult. Even though this is how it feels, this is simply not true. And thank goodness!

Being in your 20s and trying to figure out who you are and what you want is hard. But, eventually, through trial and error and making needed tweaks and changes, you will find a better way. 

The key is to have an open mind. Don’t stick with things that do not work. Let go of things that do not bring you joy or happiness. 

Let go of the things that do not promote your wellbeing and do not serve you. This may be look like changing jobs, ending a long-term relationship, or moving to a new location.

Anything is possible. Life has many twists and turns and can be unpredictable at times. Being ok with the unknown, staying flexible and making changes can help reduce young adult anxiety.

Maintain Self-Care and Hygiene

Self-care and hygiene routines can sometimes take a back seat during difficult life moments. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this has slipped down your priority list. But, do take time to reflect, regroup, and get back on track.

Maintaining healthy routines and caring for your mind, body, and spirit, are essential to reduce young adult anxiety. You simply function better when you provide yourself with nutritious food, water, exercise, and healthful living practices. 

Find Young Adult Anxiety Counseling Near Me

Young adult anxiety counseling is available for residents in New York State. The Counseling Perch offers services to clients throughout Rockland County, Westchester County, and anywhere else in NY via secure online counseling platform.

Schedule an appointment by calling 845-305-5322 or schedule online.

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