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Anxiety or stress

Anxiety is a physical feeling of fear or panic that we have in response to something that threatens the safety of ourselves or people we care about. It is normal and natural for you to feel a degree of anxiety or stress, for example, over exams. For most people, once the situation has passed, they feel better and calm down. If the situation has passed, but the feelings of fear or panic remain or get stronger and start to affect daily living, then that is when anxiety can become a problem.

More information about anxiety or stress

Signs of anxiety or stress

Some of the symptoms you may have include:

  • feeling frightened, nervous or panicky all the time

  • difficulty sleeping

  • poor appetite

  • lack of concentration

  • feeling tired and irritable

  • palpitations (when the heart feels like it is racing)

  • a dry mouth

  • trembling or shaking

  • feeling faint

  • stomach aches, cramps or diarrhoea

What happens when anxious or stressed

  • Your heart rate increases

    Pumping blood into your muscles so they are prepared for action. This is called a 'fight or flight response' – your body prepares to face danger (fight), run away (flight) or freeze.

  • Your mind becomes alert

    Helping you focus but can also mean that you over-analyse things.

  • Your breathing gets faster

    Allowing your bloodstream to carry oxygen to your arms, legs and lungs.

  • You start to sweat more

    Controlling your body temperature.

  • You can feel dizzy

    Meaning you can feel light-headed. Your blood is carrying more oxygen to your arms, legs and lungs, so there is less oxygen being sent to the brain.

  • Your muscles tense up

    Creating power but it can also cause shaking, which is normal.

  • Your liver releases sugar

    Providing quick energy but it can also make you feel fidgety.

  • Less important things slow down

    Making it harder for your body to digest food or produce saliva. This is what causes you to have a dry mouth, have a feeling like butterflies in your stomach or feel sick when you’re nervous.

Types of anxiety

Everybody experiences anxiety of some sort. Feeling anxious is a normal part of everyday life. However, if you start to feel like your anxiety is stopping you from doing things you love and enjoying life, it's a good idea to visit your doctor. You can read more about different types of anxiety below and the self-help materials you can use.

However, some anxiety problems last longer than a few days and start to affect your everyday life. If this is the case, contact your Primary Mental Health Worker or visit your doctor.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - worries that something bad will happen unless we do things in a certain way (such as rituals, cleaning or thinking certain thoughts in a certain order)

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – when memories about something bad that has happened to us in the past intrude on our day to day life and leave us feeling scared

  • Selective mutism – the inability to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives you do not see very often.

  • Separation anxiety – worries about being away from main caregivers

Additional self-help materials

CAMHS Resources - This site was created for young people, carers and professionals to pool together lots of helpful resources from across the internet that are available to help support mental health and well-being.

onyourmindglos - Helpful guides about emotional health

Get Self Help - This website provides CBT self-help and therapy resources, including worksheets and information sheets and self-help mp3s

Centre for Clinical Interventions - Self-help resources for mental health problems

Dragonfly - Free booklet about how to deal with anxiety, which can be given to students and/or parents/carers.

Autism NI - Anxiety resource pack

Social Anxiety Self-Help - www.getselfhelp.co.uk


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Useful books

  • All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann

  • Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh

  • Lancashire Libraries - Reading Well for Young People – Shelf Help

  • Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel By Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A Padesky

  • No worries by Katie Abey

  • Outsmarting Worry (An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety) by Dawn Huebner

  • Starving the Anxiety Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly

  • The Anxiety and Stress Solution Deck: 55 CBT & Mindfulness Tips & Tools by Judith Belmont

  • The Big Book of Blob Trees by Pip Wilson

  • The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust book recommendations and book club

  • The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside and Frank Rodgers

  • What to Do When… You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner

  • What to Do When… Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD by Dawn Huebner

Useful apps

HeadSpace is a personal guide to health and happiness. Designed to help you focus, breathe, stay calm, perform at your best, and get a better night’s rest through the life-changing skills of relaxation, meditation and mindfulness

Calm is an app for meditation and sleep. Designed to help lower stress, lessen anxiety, and assist in a more restful sleep with guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, masterclasses and relaxing music

7 cups is a free anonymous emotional support and counselling from trained active listeners.

SAM – Self-help for Anxiety Management is an app that offers a range of self-help methods for people who are serious about learning to manage their anxiety

WellMind is a free NHS mental health and wellbeing app designed to help you with stress, anxiety and depression. The app includes advice, tips and tools to improve your mental health and boost your wellbeing

MindShift uses strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to take charge of your anxiety

Insight Timer is guided meditations and talks led by the world's top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more

Clear Fear is developed by a clinician co-collaboratively with young people, Clear Fear uses a Cognitive Behavioural framework to help you change anxious thoughts and emotions, alter anxious behaviours and calm fear responses

Stress Heads (The Mix) is an app to help deal with stress by getting advice and dealing with all kinds of life stress, from exam pressure to money problems

Worrinots provides children with a platform that they can use to communicate their worries, fears and anxieties

Chill Panda is an app designed to help with anxiety, managing worries and improving wellbeing for primary school-aged children

Smiling Mind is a unique tool developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to your life.

Think Ninja is an app specifically designed to educate 10-18 year olds about mental health, emotional wellbeing and to provide skills young people can use to build resilience and stay well.

Get more support

Anxiety UK - Covers advice and guidance about all different types of anxiety

Childline - Information and advice

Kooth - Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people, accredited counsellors for mental health needs

Mind - Mental health charity providing guidance and support

No Panic - National organisation with information about care and support for sufferers of panic attacks, phobias, anxiety, neurosis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Samaritans - Mental health charity providing support and guidance to all

The Mix - online group chat/discussion boards supporting children and young people with a variety of mental health issues

Young Minds - UK charity fighting for children and young people's mental health

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Useful videos

Watch videos in our anxiety and stress playlist on our YouTube channel.

Games

However you're feeling, it can be great to express yourself and do things you enjoy. Take your mind off things with games, finding new ways to handle your emotions.

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