Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of worry, fear and panic. As well as emotional feelings, people with anxiety can also experience physical (body) sensations such as a racing heart, breathing fast, sweaty hands, dry mouth and feeling shaky. Many people also have “what if” or negative thoughts when they are anxious.
Anxiety is a normal human response to feeling threatened or in danger, even if that threat is a thought, image or memory. Anxiety can become a problem if it starts to stop you from doing the things that are important to you or that you once enjoyed, such as hobbies. Also if the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations are very strong, happen even when there is no real danger or last for a long time.
Remember having anxious thoughts, feelings and sensations are not dangerous.
Lots of people experience worry and anxiety although for some people it can impact on everyday life and get in the way of school, college, socialising and home life. The types of anxiety that are most common include:
• Worries about what other people think of you
• Worries about being judged negatively
• Worries about bad things happening to you or the people you care about
• Uncontrollable constant worry about lots of things (like school, the future, and world events)
• Worries about your safety and health (including worries about germs and contamination)
• Phobias (big fears) about specific things
• Worries that you are responsible for bad things happening
• Feeling the need to complete certain routines, rituals or behaviours to stop bad things from happening (commonly known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Tell someone how you are feeling no matter what your worries are. There will be someone who will listen and try to support you.
Although it feels horrible, remember that these feelings will pass. Remind yourself that you have been anxious before, those feelings went away and were ok.
Use activities that you enjoy such as watching TV, spending time with friends, reading or listening to music.Also, remember that you cannot avoid all the things that make you feel anxious. Try to face your FEARs with confidence following these four steps;
• Focus – rather than worry about the past, future or the unknown, focus on the present moment
• Expose – the more you face your fears the easier it will become to manage
• Approach – the fear of experiencing anxiety is often worse than the situation you are avoiding. Face your fear and see for yourself that the situation probably isn’t as bad as you are thought
• Rehearse – practice anxiety management techniques
There are a number of downloadable workbooks and self-help materials you might find useful:
· Breaking free from OCD: A CBT guide for young people and their families (J. Derisley, I. Heyman, S. Robinson & C. Yurner)
· The anxiety workbook for teens (Lisa M. Schab)
· Huge bag of worries (Virginia Ironside)
· The shyness and social anxiety workbook for teens (Jennifer Shannon)
· The stress reduction workbook for teens (Gina M. Biegel)
· What to do when you worry too much: A kid’s guide to overcoming anxiety (Dawn Huebner)
· Let your worries fly away (Audio CD) (Lynda Hudson)
· Let go of anxiety (Audio CD) (Lynda Hudson)