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How teenagers and school children can overcome social anxiety through counselling:

How to get back to school and university in September?

Lockdown in the UK, has left many teenagers feeling confused and stressed. Some people have found that after five months of being at home, the fact that life is returning to normality, is overwhelming and are anxious about returning to school and university in the Autumn.

Teenagers found it hard to adjust to lockdown and are anxious about returning to education

Many teenagers found it difficult to adjust to lockdown and they found measures imposed upon them in Spring intolerable, but now find that they are too anxious to go outside and return to school, because they have adjusted to life at home. Students in particular, are worried as their university year was cut short, before they settled into their course or made good friends. Now some are anxious about leaving home in September and returning to university. Other teenagers are stressed due to the uncertainty surrounding exam results they are expecting in the coming days and weeks. They are concerned that they won’t get the grades they deserve and miss out on their university or school sixth form choice.

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety is a phobia or fear of being in social situations. Disorders associated with social anxiety, can include: autism, mood problems and eating disorders. Having social anxiety is not the same as being shy, as those who have social anxiety can experience a number of symptoms (including: panic attacks, upset stomachs, trembling, racing heartbeat and dizziness) when in situations where they must be near others or talking to others.

 Most people who experience social anxiety will find that their social anxiety has evolved due to some of the following factors: an unhappy childhood, traumatic bullying or emotional, physical, sexual or verbal abuse.

However, some teenagers are now experiencing social anxiety because of lockdown and the fact that they have not been able to carry out the life they had before the pandemic.

Why are teenagers experiencing anxiety in lockdown?

The changes in their lives due to the pandemic, have been significant. Before, they may have enjoyed going to school each day, seeing friends, shopping, travelling or just being outside. Yet now, they have had to stay inside instead and they are now questioning their previous life, having adjusted to the new ‘normal.’ Being off school or university has left students with more time for themselves to think about their life and bad habits could develop such as going to bed too late.

Usually social anxiety can evolve in children, most commonly girls, at the age of 13. However, due to the UK lockdown, it is proven that social anxiety has become much more prevalent, and even in those individuals who prior to lockdown, had no mental health illness.

Why is social anxiety damaging to an individual?

Having social anxiety can result in excessive social isolation, as these individuals will try to avoid social situations, even socialising with friends. It is very important to treat people who have social anxiety, as in extreme cases, their mental health could deteriorate further, if they do not receive support and they could develop a more serious mental health illness, such as depression. In its most extreme case, those experiencing social anxiety could find they become agoraphobic. Essentially, agoraphobia is a fear of being in a place or situation which might make you panic and feel trapped or anxious. Agoraphobia is very important to treat, as if left untreated, individuals may struggle to live a normal life and instead only stay in an environment they consider safe.

How can you treat social anxiety?

There are many ways that social anxiety can be treated, but the effectiveness of each method varies depending on the individual.

Some ways to combat social anxiety, without using any medication, include:

- Going on a walk and getting the melatonin from the sun (vitamin D) which is crucial for good-quality sleep.

- Practicing positive affirmations to remind yourself that you are enough and you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

- Practicing yoga and mindfulness.

- Talking to someone you trust or going to see a counsellor.

Julie Greenhalgh – qualified counsellor and yoga teacher based in Harpenden

As a trained counsellor, I know how beneficial talking to someone can be. I aim to help reduce and eliminate your feelings of anxiety, through looking at your wellbeing with a holistic approach. Holistic wellbeing takes into consideration your overall health (so both physical and mental health) and it means that I will work out how both your physical and mental health interconnect. Holistic wellbeing is so important, as it means that I can understand if both your mental and physical health are contributing to your anxiety. With a holistic approach we can look at your sleep, patterns, diet and exercise and see how they can impact on stress levels to your mind and body. Together we look at changing these patterns.

My sessions are highly confidential and take place at my home in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. I will provide my expertise and knowledge, to let you know what changes you should make to become a healthier and happier person.

I will consider how changes in your personal and daily life could have led to your anxiety and I will work with you to make the changes necessary to see positive results. Usually these changes will involve your diet or sleeping patterns and other habits.

As a qualified counsellor who has worked with many teenagers in Harpenden and other local clients from Redbourn, Hemel Hempstead , St Albans and Wheathampstead, I am well qualified to help teenagers and school children overcome their social anxiety.

 For more information on how I can help you achieve holistic wellbeing call me now on 07909 542453.

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