Wilderness Program for Young Adults with Anxiety
Most days, anxiety may feel like a low hum--general uneasiness, hypervigilance, and uncertainty--but it can present major obstacles when it comes to confidently going after one’s goals. The general uneasiness becomes feeling sick to your stomach, hypervigilance becomes catastrophizing, and uncertainty becomes hopeless self-doubt. Many young adults may not consider the role anxiety plays in their life until they recognize that they are afraid of putting themselves out there and taking risks in a school or work environment. For them, these risks may range from asking a mentor for support to applying to their dream school. Learning skills to cope with anxiety in a treatment program can help young adults work towards realistic long-term goals.
The guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
How Does Stress in Young Adulthood Affect Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders?
It is not surprising that many young adults struggle with some degree of anxiety. While many college students look forward to socializing with like-minded peers, they also have to manage heavy loads of coursework, balance a part-time job or volunteer experience, and cope with the stress of choosing a career based on their education goals. Young adults who choose not to attend college or who decided to take time off are faced with even more pressure to launch directly into adult responsibilities without being prepared to do so.
Through these major life transitions, many young adults question if they are making the right choices, what their future will look like, and which of their new relationships will last. This often all boils down to feeling insecure about themselves, rather than recognizing that much of their distress is proportionate to situational factors.
What are the Signs of Anxiety Disorders in Young Adults?
There is a difference between stress and anxiety in young adults. Stress is a direct response to stressful situations while anxiety may arise out of “nowhere” and may continue when the initial “threat” has been resolved. Anxiety may be triggered by a variety of situations, but it usually refers to a baseline level of stress in young adults who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. With a baseline level of elevated anxiety, it can be hard for young adults to be aware of how it affects their everyday life.
Some common signs of anxiety include:
- Feelings of restlessness and
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Excessive worrying about the future and things outside of their control
- A sense of impending doom or failure
- Feeling overwhelmed by tasks and to-do lists
- Overthinking social interactions or becoming socially withdrawn
- Lack of confidence in meeting teacher and parent expectations and personal goals
- Trouble setting realistic goals
- Struggling with low self-esteem and decision-making
- Experiencing panic attacks
How Does blueFire PulsaR Help Young Adults Address Anxiety?
Many of the individuals we help have struggled in the past with motivation and confidence due to anxiety disorders. blueFire Pulsar combines adventure therapy, traditional therapeutic techniques, and transitional living programming to help clients point their lives in a more productive direction.
Adventure therapy encourages students to try new activities that improve their teamwork and problem-solving abilities. Through fun activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, yoga, and more, students explore how their fears, passions, and dreams have been getting in the way of them choosing their own adventures. These activities have been proven to lower levels of stress, build self-esteem, and empower students to break the cycle of anxiety, bad habits, and failure to launch.
As many young adults with anxiety are fearful of trying new things, the idea of participating in new adventure activities may feel out of their comfort zone. They are often occupied with fear of “not being good enough” or “being judged by others.” Young adults who struggle with anxiety often have a difficult time identifying their accomplishments and measuring their personal growth. In a group setting, peers offer supportive feedback about changes they’ve seen in the way they respond and interact with others. Having the opportunity to challenge these beliefs helps them build evidence that they can do hard things and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Wilderness therapy programs teach young adults to live in the moment and develop structure and routine in their lives. This helps them to be more present and let go of the things they don’t have control over. By following a daily schedule, young adults get a glimpse of how to structure their days with both responsibilities and recreation that helps them prepare to integrate healthy habits into their lives as they transition back into the community.