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Feeling really stressed or worried?

Everyone feels anxious from time to time and that’s completely normal. It could be your body’s way of telling you you’re not safe or something’s not right.

Feeling some anxiety can even help you to stay focused and achieve more when working to a deadline or competing in a competition, for example. Without some pressure, the Brownlee brothers wouldn’t have smashed the Olympics (again) and Adele wouldn’t have number one songs.

If you are spending too much time worrying about certain situations or things that are happening to you, however, it can start to have a negative effect. This can happen to anyone, and in fact Adele has spoken out in the past about her own anxiety and how it’s affected her ability to perform.

If anxiety is affecting your day-to-day life it can help to understand what causes it and know how to find help.

 

Where can I find help?

If you are feeling anxious too often or for too long and it’s starting to affect how you feel, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust – whether a teacher, parent, carer or your best friend. Or, if you prefer, you can talk to Childline on 0800 1111 or you can find other people you can talk to here. The most important thing to remember is you’re not alone and you can find support.

So what does anxiety feel like?…

What is anxiety and why do we feel anxious?

When you feel anxious you might notice

  • your heart beats faster
  • your throat goes dry
  • your stomach starts to churn
  • you feel sick or dizzy
  • you feel hot and sweaty
  • you feel like you need to wee or poo
  • you feel strange like you’re not really there
  • you can’t think straight

 

These sensations are all part of a normal, natural response which developed millions of years ago, to help us react to sudden life-threatening dangers. Early humans often needed to either run for their lives, or be ready to fight, when faced with a dangerous animal or a hostile tribe. When we feel anxious it’s actually the body going through some temporary changes to help us react more quickly and create more energy for running.

Although we no longer face the same kind of dangers, this response – known as ‘Flight or fight’ – can still save lives sometimes. It can help us move quickly out of the way of a speeding car, for example. The trouble is everyday worries and fears, which are usually not life-threatening, can trigger the same response so that our bodies respond to protect us as if we were in real danger.

What's the difference between anxiety and stress?

Anxiety is when you feel fearful or nervous about certain situations or worried about things that might happen. All kinds of things, big and small, can make people feel anxious – everyone is different. You might be worried about taking an exam, having to speak in public, problems at home or even going out on a date.

Stress is when you feel overwhelmed by too many problems or too much pressure and start to find it hard to cope. Stress can trigger the ‘Flight or fight’ response causing feelings of anxiety.

While these feelings will usually go away they can sometimes develop into a panic attack.  Panic attacks can be scary but can’t cause you any physical harm.

Things you might find useful

Stop, listen & relax

We’ve put together some MindMate relaxation recordings which you can access on your phone through headphones to help you calm down and relax – or in bed to help you get ready for sleep.

Find out more

ChildLine

Information about stress and anxiety, including symptoms, managing anxiety and panic attacks.

Visit website

Your panic monster

Short film produced by The Mix, helping you understand your panic triggers.

Watch video

In Hand

Free app suggesting activities to help you feel happier and more in control – for moments of anxiety or low mood. 

Find out more
Headspace app

Headspace app

A fun and easy to use intro into 10 minute meditation – offers a free 10-day trial. More features available with subscription.

Visit website

BBC Bitesize: Exam stress

Top tips and videos to help you de-stress, plus practical advice to help you revise and prepare.

Visit website

Are you upset by the news?

It’s important to know that you are not the only one and it’s OK to have those feelings. BBC Newsround gives some advice.

Visit website