What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the feeling you get when you’re worried or scared about something. Some anxiety can be helpful as it can keep you safe from danger. But sometimes anxiety can make you feel like things are worse than they actually are and can feel overwhelming. If you’re feeling anxious, you might:
feel your heart beating really fast
get scared, worried, or tense
get fidgety, or shake after something’s happened
feel sick or get a funny feeling in your stomach
struggle to think about other things
have a panic attack.
Anxiety feels different for everyone, so you could also feel something completely different. It’s also normal to have times when you feel more and less anxious.
Almost everyone gets anxious sometimes, but if your anxiety is stopping you from being able to live your life or do things you normally enjoy then it’s important to get support. 7 things that can make you anxious
Meeting new people
Speaking in front of others
Having too much caffeine
Not getting enough sleep
Ways to cope with anxiety
Whatever’s causing your anxiety, there are ways to cope:
When anxiety makes you tense, scared, or panicked, it can start to feel overwhelming.
Avoiding things that make you anxious can actually make it harder to cope in the future, but if you’re getting anxious there are things you can do that can help. You could try:
Find somewhere comfortable to sit if you can, and place both feet on the ground. Slowly breathe in through your nose as you count to 5, then out through your mouth as you count to 5 again. Keep going, and try to let your muscles relax a little more each time you breathe out.
There are lots of ways to focus on your breathing, and it can take time to find the right one for you.
Go for a short walk or a run, or even just do some star jumps. Moving your body releasing some energy can help to calm you down when things are getting too much.
Focusing on things right now
Spend some time concentrating on things you can see, touch and feel to help you stay in the moment. Look around you and slowly try to find:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch and feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you smell
1 thing you can taste
Remember, it can help to ask an adult you trust for help if you’re struggling to cope or the things you’re trying aren’t working.
Try to recognise negative thoughts
Changing how you think about yourself or a situation can help you see things differently. It can take time and practise to spot when your thoughts might be making you feel anxious, but there are small things you can try every day:
Avoid focusing on what you “should” do Thinking things like, “I should be doing more homework” or “I should be better at this” can have a big impact on how you feel about yourself. Try to catch yourself when you’re thinking about what you should do, and come up with other ways of thinking about it. For example, you could think “I want to do more homework, but I’m already doing as much as I can”
Focus on the positive It’s often easy to focus on the bad things you’ve done more than the good. Try to think of one or two things each day that you’re proud of or thankful for. You could write about them in the mood journal or collect them on bits of paper in a jar. Try to look back at what you’ve written after a few days.
Remind yourself that things can get better or change When something goes wrong, it can feel like you’ll never get better or that you’ll always be anxious. Try to remind yourself of times that you haven’t been anxious, or make a list of things that might help you to feel more confident next time.
Give yourself time to worry
Setting time aside when you’re going to do nothing but worrying can help you to let go of your worries for the rest of the day. There are lots of ways to make time for worrying, but you could try:
Set 10-30 minutes aside each day to focus on your worries, this could be first thing in the morning or later in the evening.
When it’s time to focus on your worries, write them all down, big and small. Try to think of as many worries you have as possible.
Decide which worries are the biggest, and write down some ideas of small things you could do to help with it the next day. This could be telling someone about it, or doing something to help. For example, if you’re worried about the amount of homework to do, planning to do some of it tomorrow.
Take your ideas to help and choose one thing to try, whatever happens, try to write about how it felt doing it.
Keep making time to focus on your worries every day, it can sometimes help to set a reminder you should start.
If you start worrying at other times, you can write down a reminder of what’s bothering you so you can focus on it later. Sometimes it can help to keep anything you write down in a worry box. This is a box that you put all of your worries in, and that you only open when it’s time to worry.
Talk about things
Talking about your worries and anxiety can make a big difference to how you feel. It can help you to see things differently, feel less alone and make it easier to cope. You could try talking to: an adult you feel safe with a friend you trust.
Keep a journal
Keeping a journal means that you’ll regularly write or record how you’re feeling and what’s been happening in your life. You could do it every day, or whenever you feel able to. Keeping a journal can help you to: let your feelings out see what you’ve written and think about things differently learn more about what makes you anxious and what helps think about new ways to cope or different things you could do.