Can Saying a Phrase Help to Improve Teenage Anxiety?

8171651691 08ed946ec7 zThe Atlantic recently published an article and video covering new research from Harvard Business School about how to improve adult and teenage anxiety: get excited. In the study, they got people to say the words “I am excited” before performing, giving a speech, or taking a test to see if it would improve their performance levels–and it did. By saying this simple phrase, they had improvements of up to 20 percent better than without saying it. This could be used as a great tool in schools for those struggling with overcoming their teenage anxiety.

Why it works

Anxiety and excitement have similarities because they’re aroused emotions. Both emotions include high levels of cortisol, fast heart beats, and preparation for action. The major difference between them is that anxiety is attached to negativity and excitement is attached to positivity. By saying, “I am excited!” you help tell your body not to be afraid. This is much easier than trying to calm yourself completely–which is most often what students suffering from anxiety do.
In the study, when participants said the phrase, it didn’t actually lower anxiety levels or heart rate, it just reframed anxiety as the more positive cousin: excitement. So while participants still had the same underlying anxiety, they were able to deal with it in a more productive, effective way that ended up in overall better performance levels.

How this can help teenage anxiety

Teenagers often have to present projects, give speeches, and take exams–this can be extremely hard for students suffering from anxiety. Though saying this phrase doesn’t solve the problem entirely, it’s just another coping mechanism for a student to have in their metaphorical brain toolbox. Anything that can help an individual struggling with teenage anxiety move throughout the world with a little less stress or get through the school day a little more smoothly is worth a try.

Trails Carolina can help

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that treats anxiety in teens ages 10-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, and other behavioral challenges.
For more information about Trails Carolina treats teenage anxiety, please call 800-975-7303 today!

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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