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Feeling worried and anxious is a completely normal part of life. But if anxiety starts to get on top of you, then it can affect your mental health.

It's normal

You’d expect to get nervous or anxious before exams, doing a skydive or something a bit out of the ordinary. Anxiety is part of the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and helps us to respond to danger in a helpful way.

But sometimes anxiety just won’t go away, and this is when problems start. You might be worrying about everyday stuff, things which might never happen or which are irrational, embarrassing or difficult to talk about. So, for example, you might be worried about being sick in public, saying something silly or making a fool of yourself.

What does anxiety look like?

When you’re anxious your body reacts. You may:

  • be overwhelmed by fear or nervousness
  • tremble or shake
  • have tummy aches
  • have a racing heart
  • have a tight chest
  • have panic attacks
  • be restless
  • struggle with sleep problems
  • lose weight
  • have breathing difficulties
  • struggle to concentrate
  • be short-tempered
  • want to avoid going out

and there's plenty of other symptoms too.

When does it happen?

Anxiety happens for different reasons and in lots of situations. It can feel random, but you may also spot themes. So going to a party or being in a crowded place may make you feel super anxious. You might even get anxious just thinking about social situations and then start avoiding them altogether.

Top tips for getting help

Practising relaxation exercises daily can help you learn how to relax and calm yourself. Try laying or sitting in a quiet distraction free room, closing your eyes and focussing on your breathing, try taking slow breaths, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out to the count of four.
Calendar illustration Try not to overload yourself – if you know you have stressful events coming up, space them out if you can, and put in some time to relax in your day.
Face the fear-sometimes when we have things we need to do that make us anxious we find it easier to avoid them, if we keep avoiding things the fear can become worse. If it is too difficult to face the fear try to do something slightly less difficult for example if we become anxious in a certain shop that is big, try going to a smaller one. When in the shop you will feel anxious but it will fade and become manageable.
Running shoes illustration Try doing a small amount of exercise daily this can can be used as a distraction from the anxious thoughts and as a way of getting rid of some of the physical feelings brought on by the adrenaline.

More helpful info

Young Minds have some more useful information about worrying and anxiety

Hear about 'Ben's battle with depression and anxiety' and what he had to say about it...

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPSYCH) have some really helpful information for your people about anxiety.

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