About anxiety

Anxiety is our body’s natural alarm that tells us when we’re in danger. It can protect you from harm. But it can also happen for no obvious reason. 

Why we get anxious

Millions of years ago, we needed anxiety to keep us safe from danger. These days our bodies still try to protect us. We worry about different things that aren’t always dangerous but our bodies still react in the same way. This is why you can feel anxious about things that aren’t actually harmful.

Because anxiety is a normal reaction, it’s sometimes hard to tell when it’s becoming a problem for you. It can start as a simple worry but grow into a panic attack. If you have a lot on your mind then sometimes quite a small thing can bring on anxiety. Remember, anxiety is normal. And there are lots of ways to manage your anxiety.

5 things that can make us anxious: 

  • exams
  • speaking in public
  • going to school
  • staying at a friend’s house
  • trying new things.

What can happen when you get anxious

  • 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
    Controling 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 you 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.

different types of anxiety

Everybody experiences anxiety of some sort. 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. They can work out with you what type of anxiety you might be having and talk you through the different treatment options. You can read more about different types of anxiety below. 

Other places that can help 

  • YoungMinds is a great place to learn more about mental health and find out what support you could get 
  • TheMix has info about anxiety and panic attacks, and how to help someone who suffers from them.