Anxiety is a word used to describe feelings of worry and fear. It can include both the emotional and physical feelings we might have when we are worried or nervous about something. Like knots in your tummy, feeling sick, your heart racing, panic attacks feeling out of control or unable to sleep. Although it can feel uncomfortable, anxiety is a natural biological response to feeling threatened.
Everyone feels anxious sometimes. For example, stressful situations like exams or moving home might make you feel nervous or worried. While the situation is happening you may find it hard to sleep, eat or concentrate. These feelings are completely normal and usually disappear after the situation has stopped.
Because anxiety is common it can be hard to tell if it’s becoming a problem. If you feel worried all of the time, the feelings are overwhelming and it’s affecting your life and stopping you from getting on with things then you may want to get some support. This could include talking to someone at home, telling a teacher, or asking for an appointment with a school nurse .
Why Does Anxiety Happen?
Anxiety is related to our “fight or flight” response as human beings. When you feel under threat your body physically prepares to either fight the danger or run away. That can lead to things like your heart beating faster or feeling sweaty. There is a great explanation of anxiety in the video below:
Help With Anxiety
You can learn some really useful coping strategies to manage anxiety. They may take a bit of practice but don’t give up! These include exercising, writing down your feelings and talking to someone you trust. If you want to help a friend with their anxiety encourage them to speak to a professional. If this isn’t going to happen offer them a non-judgemental, listening ear. The links below have lots more information about managing anxiety:
What makes you feel threatened can be different for everyone. It’s hard to know for sure why some people have problems with anxiety and others don’t. Some reasons include personality, past experiences, diet, physical and mental health, everyday life and habits, drugs or medication or genetics.
If you’re worrying about everyday things, things that aren’t likely to happen or even worrying about worrying you can ask for help.
There are lots of ways of dealing with anxiety. Some people find therapy or counselling useful, where they talk to a trained professional who helps them identify the cause of their anxiety and strategies for coping with it
The most commonly prescribed talking therapy for anxiety is CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
There are also self-help resources available. These can sometimes be prescribed by NHS or they can be bought or borrowed from a library. In some cases people will be given medication for anxiety.
You can also download this really useful STOPP app to help you take a step back when things are overwhelming.
You can also ask us any questions about anxiety
It can be difficult to know when anxiety might happen. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed about a situation try talking about it before it takes over. If there’s something coming up that you’re worried about try and put things in place so that you can cope more easily when it happens. Even simple things, like eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise can help you feel more able to deal with stressful situations.
The STEM4 website also has resources and tips about mental health & also the AYEMIND website – with resources developed by young people