It is not surprising that the number of people experiencing poor mental health has significantly increased over the past year, and this includes teenagers. The disruption to education, routine and socialising has had an impact on many of our young people, and this can manifest itself in various ways. Anxiety is one of the most commonly reported issues in our society today, but what exactly is it and what can we do about it?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings. We all experience periods of worry and stress in our lives- it is both normal and necessary at times. We understand that if we are worrying about an upcoming event or challenge, that once it is over, we will return to a state of calm. It is temporary. However, anxiety can become a problem if fear, worry, and nervousness are the constant and dominant emotions. There are many factors that can trigger anxiety, including relationships, pressure of work, experiencing trauma, and having disproportionate levels of responsibility. If a person feels trapped by negative feelings for a long period of time, it can trigger physical symptoms as well as emotional ones.
Symptoms and signs of anxiety vary depending on the individual, but the most common signs include:
- Feeling sick
- Feeling like you cannot breathe/ fast breathing
- Panic attacks
- Light-headed/ wobbly
- Dry mouth
- Negative thoughts
- On edge/panicky
- Sensitive to noise/light/movement
It is important to remember that there are actions we can take to manage anxiety and promote positive mental health:
- Mindfulness and meditation are great for managing a panic attack and for relaxation in general. Focussing on your senses helps to centre the brain and distract from the feelings of worry- what can you hear/see/smell/feel/taste? How to Meditate with Anxiety – Mindful
- Grounding techniques are coping strategies to help reconnect you with the present and bring you out of a state of panic or distress. 8 Grounding Techniques for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed | Talkspace
- Talking to someone we trust– sharing our worries allows others to help us gain perspective and provide the opportunity for reassurance.
- Exercise is great for releasing endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormone which helps us cope with pain and stress.
- Going outside and being surrounded by nature is scientifically proven to reduce the level or cortisol in our bodies which is our main ‘stress’ hormone.
- Doing enjoyable activities such as art, cooking, watching a film or reading a book.