It’s normal to feel anxious and to worry sometimes. But if your worries don’t stop, and begin to feel too much, it’s time to get some help.
Lots of things can make you feel anxious and nervous –the thought of changing schools, homework or exam stress, even just being out with friends.
A bit of anxiety can help you deal with difficult times, it might help you to do things better, in a school play or in a test for example. But once the difficult situation is over, you should feel better and calm down. But if the feeling of fear and panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety can become a problem and can really affect your everyday life.
We are all different, so being anxious might feel different for you than it does for someone else. The feelings you have might include:
- Feeling frightened, nervous or panicky all the time
- Tired and irritable
- Upset or angry outbursts
- Tearful or clingy
- Getting down or depressed
- Difficulty sleeping or bad dreams
- Not wanting to eat very much
- Not being able to concentrate
- Heart feels like it’s racing
- Dry mouth
- Feeling faint
- Stomach ache and/or diarrhoea
Feeling one, some, or even most of these doesn’t necessarily mean you have anxiety disorder. It’s important to talk to someone about how you feel.
Try to relax. Sometimes that is easy to say and not so easy to do. The MoodCafe www.moodcafe.co.uk/for-children-and-young-people/relaxation-for-children has really good exercises to help you relax.
The following tips can really help too:
- Try to sleep well and eat well (see our pages on looking after yourself)
- Balance your life, for example play, exercise, build friendships, sleep
- Do not fight the feelings of panic. Go with them. They will disappear more quickly
- Relax your tense muscles. Drop your shoulders, loosen your jaw, feel yourself relaxing
- Watch your breathing. When you are anxious, your breathing is likely to get faster and become shallower. It might even make you feel dizzy or give you a tight feeling in your throat.
- Breathe slowly in through your nose for a count of four and out through your mouth for a count of five
- Talk positively to yourself, for example ‘I can be calm’, ‘I am going to pass’, I will succeed.’
- Childline is a helpline for children to talk about any problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – call free on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk/get-support
- If you are in an emergency and there is a risk to life (yours or someone else’s) call 999
- To report any concerns about the safety or welfare of a child or young person call 01454 866000
There is more information in the ‘Getting help’ section.
Talk to a parent or carer or another adult you trust.
Your school can also help with your wellbeing – just ask a teacher or another member of staff.
South Gloucestershire Anxiety Toolkit – a set of resources for children and young people, parents/carers and professionals with information on understanding and managing fears and anxieties: www.southglos.gov.uk/anxiety
Anxiety UK run helplines and therapy services for people with anxiety. Call 03444 775 774 or text 07537 416 905, Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.30pm. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.anxietyuk.org.uk
NHS Choices – website where you can find information about a range of mental health conditions and search for local services. Children’s Anxiety: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-children/
Information and free booklet to download for children with obsessive and compulsive behaviour www.ocduk.org/childrens-ocd-guide
SAM is a free phone app to help you understand and manage anxiety. The app has been developed in collaboration with a research team from UWE, Bristol. sam-app.org.uk/
Shelf help – a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries. https://reading-well.org.uk/books/books-on-prescription/young-people-s-mental-health/anxiety-worry-and-panic