It seems that every day more and more articles are published about teenagers and anxiety. Everyone seems to be noticing that teenagers today are the most stressed-out generation on record.
Despite its rise, the more I talk with teenagers and study their habits, I have determined, thankfully, that some of the anxiety can actually be reduced and eliminated.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Let’s look at three factors that cause anxiety and how they can be reduced or eliminated in your life.
1. Unsettling World Events
Even if you don’t watch the evening news, you’re bound to hear others talking about tragedies in the news or hear the sound bites on the radio. Just this week, we’re dealing with . . .
- Continued political unrest.
- The ever-present threat of war with Russia or North Korea.
- School shootings and other horrific violence.
- Rampant stories of abuse of women and children.
That’s just the national news. There may be more tragedy in your community or in your family that hits even closer to home.
If the news causes you anxiety, try to cut some of it out of your life. If the news recap is playing on the radio, change it or ask your parents to change it. This doesn’t change the facts that bad things are happening, but it keeps you from focusing on events you cannot control anyway.
Most importantly, realize that God is in control of world events.
“That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isa. 45:6–7).
The world is an evil place and bad things will continue to happen until Christ returns for us, but if you know that God is in control of it all, it brings comfort. Also, pray for the world. There may be nothing we can physically do to impact geopolitics or respond to national tragedy, but we can certainly pray. In fact, God’s Word reminds us that prayer is an antidote to anxiety.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6).
2. The Pull of Social Media
Social media can invite anxiety into our lives in many ways. You might be someone who thinks about how many likes you get on an Instagram post and obsessively check it. You may put a “fake” you out there to gain more followers.
Social media can also cause you to feel left out. You may see that many of your friends get together to hang out and you weren’t invited. It may also cause you to compare yourself to others in unhealthy ways. You may look at the perfect-looking pictures of others and feel defeated about the realities of your own life.
All of these thoughts and actions cause anxiety.
If social media is bringing anxiety and negative thoughts into your life, then either limit your use or cut it out entirely. You won’t have to worry about the number of likes, followers, or what others are doing when you’re not there.
You can focus on your relationship with God, family, and friends. Those are the things that really matter anyway. You may think you’re going to miss out on something by doing this, but if you give it a few weeks, I predict you’ll realize that what you’re missing isn’t all that important after all.
3. So. Many. Options.
At this point in life (especially if you’re a senior) there are so many options to choose from. You may be thinking:
- Which college do I choose?
- What should I major in?
- Where will I live?
- Do I even want to go to college?
- Will I find a good job?
Sometimes having unlimited options is a good thing, but many times it can prove overwhelming and cause anxiety.
When the options seem endless, Proverbs 3:5–6 offers great wisdom: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Whatever you are faced with, if you trust God and live your life for Him, He will direct you. In every situation our job is to trust God, not figure everything out ourselves.
A Picture of Peace
Anxiety doesn’t have to be the defining characteristic of you or your generation. Remember that God is peace and if you have anxiety in your life, you can choose to focus on His promises instead. Like this one . . .
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isa. 26:3).
Have you ever realized something was causing you anxiety and cut it out of your life? Are there other factors that are causing you anxiety?
Let us know in a comment below.