Anxious to Become an Adult? 5 Tips to Ease Your Worries

With any large life transition, it is normal to have a large mixture of emotions like excitement, anxiety, or nostalgia. I felt all of these all at once, especially during pivotal events of my life such as when I got my medical diagnoses, turning 18, graduating high school, going through a breakup, moving away for college, and moving in with Maddie for the first time just to name a few.

If this seems familiar to you, read on for 5 ways I did to help alleviate my own anxieties and helped others work through theirs.

Social Support 

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-sitting-on-floor-with-red-and-white-ceramic-mugs-4881627/

Disabled individuals have been found to experience loneliness at much higher rates than non-disabled individuals (Emerson et al., 2021). Among teenagers and young adults, social isolation leads to an increased risk for mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety (Hunt et al., 2023). 

This is why it is important for us to find a community that supports us as they can act as protective factors against depression and anxiety. And they can also open doors to new and exciting opportunities such as a job, hobby, friends, or dating. 

Ways you can build your own community are through: 

  • Online community groups such as HealthyGamerGG 
    • If you are looking for others who may share the same conditions/disabilities as you, it may be helpful to search and join Facebook groups as well 
    • Following tiktokers, Youtubers, and IG influencers can also be a great way to learn about ways that have helped them and find people of similar experiences 
  • Joining a health club or group. For me it was martial arts! 
  • If you’re in college, pick a few student clubs you’re interested in and attend a few meetings. For me I got to learn a new skill and meet a lot of different people my age when I joined a swing dancing club, mental health club, and fencing club. 
  • More generally, you can find hobby groups through Meetup.com 
    • Note: As with everything, exercise a bit of cautious optimism. Do not give away personal information right away such as your home address, credit card information, etc. 

Prioritize Health

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When I say prioritize health, I mean keeping tabs on your physical and mental health and making sure it is not out of balance. I do not mean obsessively optimize every bit of your lifestyle. I say this because I think one of my biggest personal struggles was over-correcting my habits and routines to “make-up” for what my body was lacking.

This mindset caused a lot of unhealthy habits such as depriving myself of food (then consuming too much protein-rich foods; for those with chronic kidney disease I’m not supposed to have a lot of protein) and pushing myself too hard at the gym until I physically could not move. Additionally, due to the stigma surrounding mental health, I held off on taking any medications.

With a lot of work and personal growth on my end as well as the support of others, I’m thankfully in a better place mentally which helped me to better maintain my physical health.

These are things you can try to stay balanced in your mental and physical health: 

  • Use a pill organizer 
  • Practice mindfulness/meditation 
  • Prioritize your doctor’s and therapy appointments (this includes physical, occupational, and psycho therapy) 
  • Keep a health journal 
  • Schedule time to socialize with a family member or friend 
  • Schedule time for physical activity which can look like: 
  • Chair yoga 
  • Weightlifting (in the gym or at home) 
  • Going on a walk 
  • Swimming 
  • Participating in any team sports 
  • Keep a physical or digital calendar that includes some of the following: 
    • Doctor appointments 
    • One or two activities you are going to do for yourself that day 
    • Any upcoming birthdays 
    • Your grocery shopping day 
    • A weekly goal 
  • Meal prepping once or twice a week 
    • Personally, I’ve found that this saves me time during the week and ensures I have something healthier to eat rather than microwaving a Hot Pocket or something less nutritional like the gummy candy I have on reserves in my pantry. It takes me about an hour to two hours max every week to have food I can eat for the week. 

Establish Routines 

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Routines are anything we do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis such as brushing our teeth in the morning and night, taking any daily medications, meal prepping, etc. Routines are essential as they help us maintain our health and without them we may start to feel anxious and/or disorganized. The added benefit is that it makes our day slightly easier as it takes the mental energy out of needing to think “what next?”

For me, my routines are an essential part of promoting my own health and wellbeing as well as taking the stress off of anything that may pop up during the week. Examples of my routines include: 

  • Brushing my teeth morning and night 
  • Making breakfast and taking my medications 
  • Weightlifting Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and running on Sunday 
  • Household chores on Saturday or Sunday 
  • 1-2 hours of complete leisure time a night 
  • Meal prep on Sunday 
  • In bed before 9:30 p.m. 

All this said, it is okay to have some variation in your routine and is expected! The general purpose is for you to have a schedule that you can maintain that helps you stay healthy. Ways you can establish a routine today include: 

  • Creating a weekly to-do list 
  • Use of alarms/reminders for your bedtime  
  • Asking yourself the following: 
    • What do I need to do every day? 
      • Think: daily hygiene like showering and brushing your teeth, getting dressed, medications, homework; these should be prioritized 
    • What do I want to do every day/week? 
      • Think: stuff you find enjoyable like playing videogames, reading, watching YouTube, going on TikTok, etc.; these can only be done once all your “need to do’s” are completed 
    • Am I getting between 7-9 hours of sleep? 
  • Have an accountability partner. This can be a friend or family member who will check in with you at a set time (like every other day, every week, etc.) 
  • Using your “want to do’s” list as a reward for accomplishing any “need to do’s” 

Communicate Needs/Establish Boundaries

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Communicating your needs and establishing healthy boundaries with others can be very difficult, especially when you do not want to come off as a killjoy or face the pressure of maintaining friendships or romantic relationships. However, it is necessary to do so that you can continue living a life that is both healthy and fulfilling for you.

When I was 18 up until 22, I had difficulty maintaining my own boundaries as I felt the need to people please (I also admittedly had a bit of a “savior complex”). This resulted in me feeling burnt out and eventually impacted my mental and physical health negatively.

Today, I am still growing and always learning how to more effectively communicate what I need. But since I’ve recognized and began taking steps towards it, I find I have more energy for myself while still being able to help others.

These are some things you can try today to help you communicate your needs and establish boundaries: 

  • Write out or voice record your thoughts after any stressful situation 
    • After doing this, determine what you would have liked to have happened and what you could have done differently. Note those down as well. 
  • Establish a list of things you’d like to do if you had the energy to do them 
    • This is particularly important if you find yourself overextending yourself to be there for others 
  • Practice talking out your concerns with someone else. This could be a friend, family member, or another trusted individual like a professor or old high school teacher. 
    • This conversation could be started by calling/texting/emailing them and stating something like: “I came across a difficult situation and I have an idea of how to address it next time. Can I talk over what I’d like to do and get your feedback?” 

Establish A Budget

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As I like to say, money isn’t everything, but it does provide opportunity. Without money we are unable to do the things we want and need to do like paying for our medications, going on dates, having a place to live, or engage in our favorite hobbies. This is why it’s important to establish a budget for ourselves. If you haven’t created a budget before, here is very basic budgeting worksheet you can do today to get started: 

  • Download our monthly budget worksheet 
  • Open it using either Excel or Google Sheets 
  • Fill in as much information as you can, if you don’t have a particular income or expense, write $0 
  • Flexible Monthly Expenses are expenses that can change every month 
    • Ex. If I put $400 for groceries, that does not mean I have to spend $400 groceries every month, but how much I think I spend every month 
    • If you are unsure what to budget for each category, think back to how much you spent in the last full month (ex. June 1st to June 30th). 
  • Fixed Monthly Expenses are expenses that do not change every month 
    • Ex. If rent is $2000, that means every month, I will be spending $2000 
  • Total Expenses, Leftover Money After Monthly Expenses, and Gross/Total Monthly Income will be auto calculated. 
  • In the Flexible Monthly Spending tab found at the bottom of the document, you will be writing in every dollar spent as they fit into each category 
    • This helps you be more aware of how much you spend a month 
    • Under Sub Total, the spreadsheet will turn Red and negative if you are overbudget 
  • Examples of both Main Budget Sheet and Flexible Monthly Spending are also found in the other two tabs at the bottom of the document 

Conclusion 

Becoming an adult can be challenging and overwhelming. If any of the ideas helped you out let us know down in the comments! If you have any questions or need further support, please feel free to reach out to us at oternativeperspectives@gmail.com

Author Nathan Baniqued, CEO and Founder of OTernative Perspectives

About the Author

Nathan Baniqued (he/him)

Nathaniel (Nathan) Baniqued OTD, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist who received his doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis, MO in 2023. Originally from O’ahu, HI, Nathan has had 7+ years of experience working with individuals with disabilities in various jobs and settings such as public education, supported employment, and outpatient clinics. The spark that began his desire to work with people with disabilities was after a medical event at 11 years-old when he was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3A.

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