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Managing your anxiety

Anxiety can be really difficult to deal with, but there are ways to manage it. Lots of people find breathing and distraction techniques are helpful. Building up your confidence can also help you feel more like you are in control. It's often useful to talk to someone about how you're feeling.

Managing your anxiety

What to do when you feel anxious

Anxiety can sometimes make you feel tired, upset, worried, shaky, light-headed, frustrated or like you might ‘go crazy’.

Some people experience panic attacks. Severe anxiety can leave you feeling like you might be sick. Whenever you feel like this, remind yourself that:

  • This is just anxiety.
  • It can't harm me.
  • It will pass.
  • I am in control.

    Whatever your worry is, we're here for you.

It's good to talk

Talking with a friend, family member or trusted person about how you feel can often leave you feeling calmer and more comfortable. Why not visit the anxiety message board and get support from the ChildLine community?

If you feel you need professional help and support, you might be able to talk to a therapist. Your doctor should be able to tell you how you could do this. You can also come and talk to a ChildLine counsellor free on 0800 1111. Find out more about how you can contact ChildLine.

  • Boost your confidence

    When we’re stressed out, we often feel less confident. You might feel like you can’t do something and worry you’re not good enough.

    Try and challenge these negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, such as, “I am worthwhile” instead of “I am worthless”. The more you repeat them, the more likely positive thinking will become natural for you.

    Make a list of all the good things about yourself in a diary or notebook. If a negative thought appears, scribble it out and replace it with something that makes you smile.
    Read more about building confidence and self-esteem.

  • Relaxation techniques

    Meditation 
    When we're anxious, we tend to over-analyse things and thoughts start buzzing around our heads. Meditation is a helpful way to relax your mind. Find somewhere quiet, away from any distractions and let your mind clear, focusing on your breathing. You can learn more about how to meditate on the Smiling Mind website.

    Deep breathing exercise
    Anxiety can make your breathing faster and less deep. This can make panic symptoms worse, so it's good to practise deep breathing. Gently breathe in and out from low down in your chest, nearer your stomach. Make an effort to slow your breathing down. Breathing exercises are also a good way of controlling panic attacks.

    Muscle relaxation
    Anxiety sometimes causes your muscles to tense up. This is a natural response to prepare your body for action as your mind thinks you're in danger. It can help to focus on each area of your body at a time, tensing and then relaxing the muscles.

  • Distraction techniques

    Focusing your attention on something else is a good way to distract yourself and stop you feeling anxious. A detailed activity that needs your full concentration is usually most helpful. It could be a crossword, puzzle, working out the 13 times table, or counting backwards from 100. You can also take your mind off things by playing a game or using the creative tool. Take a look at more helpful distraction techniques you can use if you have a panic attack.

  • Active problem solving

    When a problem seems really big, it can be scary to know where to start sorting it out. First of all, look at what the problem is. Think of all of the possible solutions and write down how you think things might turn out if each one happened. This will help you choose what the best solution would be.

    If you still feel unsure about what to do, why not see if our problem page, Ask Sam, has any advice? You can see if Sam has already answered a similar problem, or send your problem to Sam yourself. You can always speak to a ChildLine counsellor who can talk things through with you some more.

  • Diary writing

    Writing a diary can be very helpful for some people. Writing down what you are experiencing can help you understand your feelings more clearly, making things easier to deal with. You can also keep a gratitude journal where each day you write or draw 3-5 things that you feel grateful for.

  • Changes you can make to your diet

    Paying attention to your diet can help you improve your mood and reduce mood swings. Here are some things to try:

    - Reduce how much sugar and caffeine you are getting. There's a lot of sugar and caffeine in coke, other fizzy drinks, chocolate, tea and coffee. This can make the anxiety worse.

    - Try and eat balanced meals at set times. If your body is in a rhythm of regular meals you may feel less anxious.

    - Avoid alcohol and drugs as these also increase anxiety. They can make you paranoid, meaning you worry a lot about bad things happening to you and find it hard to feel safe even when things are actually okay.

    A healthy diet will give you enough strength to deal with stressful situations. Having breakfast, lunch and dinner at the right times will also help your body to fit into a routine. Find out more about healthy eating and exercise.

  • Exercise

    When we get anxious, a chemical called adrenaline rushes through our bodies to prepare us to either run away from or fight a frightening situation. This is called 'fight or flight response'. It can make you feel really shaky or light-headed. Doing things like  walking, going to the gym, running or swimming helps take the adrenaline levels back down again. This can reduce the physical feelings of anxiety.

  • Reward yourself

    Each time you manage to stop being negative or use new coping skills to manage anxiety, why not reward yourself? Make a list of things you enjoy and choose one to reward yourself with. This can be something as simple as a trip to the cinema or reading your favourite book.

  • Challenge your thoughts

    Anxiety is often triggered by unhelpful thoughts which make us feel scared, even when we are not in danger. When this happens it is important to remember that our thoughts are not facts and that just because we think something it doesn’t make it true. If you think that you are a millionaire, it won’t make you one! Noting down your thoughts and coming up with evidence to prove them wrong can help to reassure us when we are feeling nervous.
    If you are finding it difficult to put your thoughts into words you can use the brain background in the Creative Tool to draw what is bothering you.

Other sites that can help

Advice on how to help a boyfriend or girlfriend with anxiety from TheSite.org.
My girlfriend/boyfriend has anxiety (TheSite.org)

Help and support for young people who have anxiety.
YoungMinds

Infomation about types of anxiety and ways to get help and support.
Anxiety UK

Advice and support for handling anxiety.
MIND

Tips for beating anxiety

Want more tips for beating anxiety? Or perhaps you have some of your own? Post a message on the message boards.

Anxiety message board

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Managing your anxiety 

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