Anxiety in Children as a Result of Their Illness: How to Identify it & 5 Ways to Combat it

In this week’s episode of The UpBeat Podcast, our host Greg sits down with Megan Gallagher, a 23-year-old mental health advocate and motivational speaker, to discuss her experience with an issue familiar to many families impacted by childhood chronic illness — severe anxiety.

Listen to Megan’s interview here.

According to a 2019 survey issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than 7% (or 4.4    million) US children between the ages of 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety.

After years of her own fight with crippling anxiety and panic attacks, Megan now travels the country speaking to middle and high school students about managing their anxiety, loving themselves, and being in tune with their bodies.

Megan’s got some wonderful advice and tips for children and their families dealing with the mental and emotional strain of a chronic diagnosis. Many of her favorite methods to combat anxiety are free or low-cost and most of them can also be accessed immediately from anywhere. Here are 5 easy-to-implement at-home remedies that Megan finds helpful:

1. Watch guided meditations on YouTube
YouTube is home to a multitude of specific guided assistance for many forms of anxiety triggered by a wide range of causes. At no cost, users can listen to and/or watch guided breathing exercises, daily affirmation mantras, and helpful physical activities, just to name a few.

2. Write down your feelings
A big part of overcoming anxiety is recognizing it and acknowledging it. One of the most helpful ways to do that is by writing down your feelings. Write them down anywhere, be honest, and don’t share it if you don’t want to. Trying to fully understand the problem is a great first step to defeating it.

3. Talk to someone
Much like writing them down, sharing your feelings with a trusted friend can be a helpful way to fully understand what your body and mind are going through. And anxiety affects many, many people — there’s a good chance they’ve experienced something similar.

4. Make healthy choices
Listen to what your body and mind are telling you about the causes of your anxiety. Think hard about things you can do (and not do) to ease the burden — and then follow through.

5. Download apps on your smartphone
As Megan explains in her interview, social media and electronic devices can both decrease and increase our anxiety. Two apps that she found very beneficial are Unplug and Headspace. Both are quick, easy to use, and provide soothing help for users experiencing anxiety or worried about its onset. While not completely free, both apps offer free trials and free content.

The UpBeat podcast is powered by CoachArt, a nonprofit organization that provides FREE art and athletic activities to families impacted by any childhood chronic illness – such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy and more. Programs are currently offered in the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco Bay areas, with more cities coming soon!

If you have a child that may qualify for CoachArt programs, visit: CoachArt.org.

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