What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure (American Psychological Association, 2015). It can appear as an uneasy or worried feeling about a future event or nervousness about an uncertain event.
Who Gets Anxiety?
Everyone at some point in his or her life has a feeling of anxiousness. It is a normal part of life and can even be helpful in healthy doses! Those anxious feelings can give us the extra push we need to prepare for a presentation or alert us to think through the consequences of a big decision. In small doses anxiety can be beneficial but at other times anxiety can become overwhelming. Anxiety can be harmful when it interferes with our ability to focus and function. It becomes a problem when it occurs frequently, lasts for days, and interferes with your sleep, school, or work life.
There is no age limit when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Children also experience stress when dealing with school, making new friends, and separating from their parents. Children with anxiety may have trouble identifying what they are feeling and what they are worried about. “It is common for kids to avoid talking about how they feel, because they are worried that others might not understand” (KidsHealth, 2014). Similar to adults, children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities (ADAA, 2015).
(Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2015)
Managing anxiety can be easier said than done. Anyone with anxiety knows how hard it can be to deal with. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends
These strategies are extremely useful not only to your mental health, but your physical health as well. When your body is stressed, taking care of it by eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and exercise is particularly important.
Some of the other strategies may require a little more work. Maintain a Positive Attitude? How can I even think of anything positive when I have all this stress in my life? Taking Deep Breaths? Learning the triggers of your anxiety? I don’t know where it comes from! It just happens?!
When anxiety appears to be unmanageable on your own it is helpful to talk with a professional. Talking with someone else about your anxiety is therapeutic in itself but it can also provide you with a clearer insight to where it comes from and how to change it.
Helping children manage their own anxiety can also be a tough task. Like with adults, children can also have a hard time expressing what causes their anxiety or what to do about it. It is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the child’s feelings and model a calm and positive attitude. Children can become anxious around a variety of situations, especially about school and their peers. It is common for all children to experience some fear and worry but when it starts impacting their school performance, home, or social life extra help is needed. Recognizing their worries and encouraging children to express their feelings is an important but sometimes tricky job. Like with adults, children can benefit from seeing a professional who can help aid in the identification and management of their anxiety. Introducing coping skills such as relaxation and visualization exercises are just a couple of the many effective ways to handle anxiety. The earlier the intervention the better!
American Psychological Association. (2015). Anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2015). Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress. Retrieved from http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
KidsHealth. (2014). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/anxiety_disorders.html#a_Treatment