Anxiety and How it Can Affect People

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Written by Sedbergh School Wellbeing Coordinator, Ms Dee Adamson

Anxiety can affect any person, at any stage of their life. If you are experiencing some anxiety, you are normal. When we worry, we often overthink for lengthy periods of time, so much so, that we can feel overwhelmed and out of control.

The feeling of distress or unease of a potential threat, is the foundation of anxiety and can lead to approaching future events with negativity. This often occurs when an individual begins to pay more attention to their surroundings, looking for signs of threat. Once a threat is established, individuals then start to see whether or not they can manage that threat.

When you notice your anxious symptoms, you think that you can’t cope with the situation. It can often influence our thoughts and feelings and the way we behave and therefore, we become more anxious. There is also, undoubtedly, many people telling you that ‘worry is bad for you’, that leads us to other issues around frustration and resenting ourselves for getting into a cycle of anxiousness. What if I told you that it’s a natural energy and instinct that can be channeled to achieve great things?

There are numerous effects on the human body in how we react to threat. The common reaction to threat or danger, is the ‘fight or flight’ response. Whether an individual chooses to remove themselves from the threat (flight) or stay and confront the threat (fight).

For example, if you saw a large dog charging towards you, the brain sends a signal ‘threat’ and the body responds by shooting hormones such as adrenaline into the bloodstream. This makes us immediately stronger and faster to make the fight or flight response. You may get given a exam to take in Maths and you realise you aren’t prepared, you’re not likely to respond by fighting or running from the classroom but sit stewing at your desk. This is the kind of anxiety that builds, making us emotional and vulnerable and our physical response for example would be; increased heart rate (supplying blood to our muscles), we become tense (ready for action), we take deep breathes (supplying oxygen) and we sweat (cool down). 

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It is therefore important to remember that the experience of anxiety is not necessarily a negative, we need our worry instinct to stay productive and connected to our purpose in life. So, let’s embrace our worries and learn to manage them.

Top tips for managing your anxiety – think about your senses

Smell – can be really important as it can sooth us or completely gross us out. Choose a smell that you can carry round with you on a tissue or in a small pot. For example ‘Calm Balm’ by Skin & Tonic or Tisserand aromatherapy rollerball – ‘little box of wellbeing’.

Sound – if the noise is overwhelming, try and see if you can remove yourself from the situation for five minutes. Listen to some music, use a meditation app or sit quietly outside if you can. Calm or Buddify are really useful apps.

Taste – keep a mint or a sweet in your pocket.

Sight – find something to focus on, a picture on a wall, outside a window or scroll through your photos and find something to make you smile.

Touch – pop a tactile stone/pebble in your pocket just to remind you of the above steps. Grab a teddy or ask someone for a hug if you can. Also, weighted blankets are exceptionally good for anxiety. (Kuddly).

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but wanting to control it.” – Kahlil Gibran

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