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Ready Player One – How do you Escape?

Author: Kimber Sarver, 4-H Extension Agent

Without giving away the plot, Ready Player Oneis about escaping into a virtual world called The Oasis. This virtual world is limited only by your imagination. As an adult, Mr. Halliday created The Oasis because as a boy he would escape his social anxiety by playing video games. So, how do you escape? And maybe more importantly, what are you escaping from?

As a youth development professional, I am concerned about an increase in the number of youth that are affected by social anxiety.  I personally know some kids in high school that are nearly immobilized with fear when they have to speak.  And, I’m not just talking about standing up in front of the classroom to give a speech.  They would rather go hungry than approach a cashier with their lunch order.  Other kids are choosing not to make friends because of the social anxiety caused to put themselves “out there”.

At camp last summer, one of my camp counselors was able to help a camper fend off a panic attack.  This was scary because we didn’t know the camper had panic attacks.  It occurred when all the campers were innocently participating in a “repeat after me” song.  The campers were getting louder and louder and the intensity brought on the attack.  The counselor saw the desperate look on the camper‘s face and immediately took them to a quiet and calm place.  The counselor used a quick grounding technique to help the camper calm down. The grounding technique is “5-4-3-2-1”. Ask the affected to person to tell them 5 things they can see, 4 things they can hear, 3 things they can see, 2 things they can smell, and 1 thing they can taste.

This year we are going to come to camp with “worry pets”.  Worry pets are super soft, simple stuffed circles with big expressive eyes.  They are handmade and can be left in varying degrees of “finished-ness”.  For instance, because they are so soft they are an IMMEDIATE relief to those on the verge of a panic attack.  However, being able to hand sew one yourself is very calming and only takes about 15 minutes.  You can do a simple Google search of “worry pets” and find many tutorials.  My Healthy Living Teen Team successfully presented these worry pets and other tips at the National 4-H Conference in February.

If you or someone you know has anxiety, it is good to know that anxiety attacks can be brought on by dehydration, drinking or eating too much caffeine, lack of sleep, or a poor diet.  Lessen anxiety, by eating a diet with B vitamins, such as avocados, milk, and almonds. Also, eat asparagus for it’s folic acid. Berries have vitamin C and antioxidant properties that promote cell repair.  And, eating oatmeal or turkey will release your body’s natural serotonin. Practicing mindfulness and deep breathing will help you focus on what you are observing and take your mind off of your anxious feelings.  Stay hydrated at all times because thirst is the first sign of dehydration.  Limit caffeine, including chocolate, and get your recommended amount of sleep.

Instead of escaping anxiety producing situations, find methods to help you get through them.  Your parents and any adults that look after you should know that you get anxious. Telling one or two good friends can also help, especially if you spend a lot of time with them.

You can find out more about anxiety by clicking on this link http://edis.ifas.ufl.eduand typing “anxiety” in the search box.