We all experience feelings of stress, worry and anxiety from time to time. Knowing what it is and how to deal with it can really help.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a sensation of panic, fear, worry or uncertainty. We might experience it when we start a new school or move house, or it could be caused by something more serious. It’s an extremely common feeling, and for most people, it simply comes and goes.
A little anxiety can be beneficial – like when you’re preparing for an exam – and it usually passes along with the situation that has caused it. But sometimes, feelings of anxiety can be stronger, last longer and start to create problems for us.
What causes anxiety?
There are lots of reasons why you might be experiencing long-term anxiety. For some people, it’s caused by a bad experience in the past and the worry that it might happen again. For others, it could be caused by day-to-day lifestyle issues, such as family problems or pressure at school, college or work. It can stem from a bad diet (too much sugar or caffeine) and some people believe it can be inherited from your parents.
Whatever the reason, if you’re worried you might be struggling with anxiety, we can help. Keep reading to find out about the symptoms of anxiety, how to deal with it and how to get support.
How do I know if I’m suffering from anxiety?
The symptoms of anxiety are different for everyone, and it can affect you both physically and emotionally. It’s not always easy to tell if you’re just experiencing mild feelings of worry, or have an issue that you need to address, but if you’re experiencing some or all of the feelings below, it might be good to talk to someone.
Physical symptoms of anxiety:
- Muscle tension and chest pains
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- ‘Butterflies’ in your tummy
- Dizziness, wooziness or feeling faint
- Prickly skin (pins and needles)
- Hot flushes and/or sweating
- Faster breathing
- Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- Increased blood pressure
- Broken sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Going to the loo more often
- Panic attacks (a sudden feeling of the symptoms above)
Emotional symptoms of anxiety:
- Feeling worried or uneasy
- Feeling depressed
- Having a sense of low self-worth
- Feeling irritable
- Having trouble concentrating
- Feeling on edge or extra alert
- Needing frequent reassurance
- Feeling unable to relax or switch off
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling numb
- Feeling your brain is too busy with thoughts
How can I help myself?
A few simple changes to your lifestyle could help relieve your anxiety when it arises – and might even help you break the cycle altogether.
Breathe slowly and deeply: you’d be amazed how well this simple technique can help to ease the feelings of anxiety.
Find a distraction: doing something you enjoy like painting, listening to music, playing an instrument or even doing some colouring can head off anxiety.
Take some physical exercise: there’s plenty of truth in the old cliché about a ‘healthy mind and healthy body’. Just walking the dog can help you clear your mind.
Work out what triggers your anxiety: write down in a diary when you feel anxious and try to identify the situations that might be causing it.
Talk to someone: it’s a great way to remind yourself that you’re not dealing with the problem alone.
Try relaxation techniques: meditation, yoga, massage and aromatherapy can all help you relax and sleep better. Another technique called ‘mindfulness’ can help you pay more attention to the present and let go of issues from the past. You can find out all about it by searching online.
Change your diet: caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can make your anxiety worse, while a healthy diet can have a positive effect on your mood.
How can I get support?
If you feel you need help for your anxiety, it’s good to talk to someone you trust – sharing how you feel with a parent, friend or teacher can make a big difference.
For professional help, there are lots of treatments and support networks available. If you make an appointment with your doctor, they’ll run through the options and help find what suits you.
If you live in Gloucestershire and are aged 9-21, you can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. TIC+ works hard at raising funds so they can arrange for a counsellor to see you for free, all you need to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to arrange an appointment. We know it can be hard to take that first step but, like the other young people we’ve helped, you’ll be so glad you did.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Childline on 0800 1111, NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!
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