When I talk to high school students, I often ask them – “what really stresses you out?”
One of the first things I hear back is “school”. As the beginning of a new school year approaches, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about anxiety.
I hear the word ‘anxiety’ used pretty frequently to describe both a feeling and a mental health issue – but what is it exactly?
Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time, and it is the body’s way of preparing us for a difficult situation. Sometimes anxiety can help us perform better by helping us feel alert and more motivated.
Anxiety might feel like butterflies in the stomach, a beating heart, sweating more than usual, feeling tense in the shoulders, or maybe just feeling like you’re unable to relax. Feeling like this now and then is okay, but too much can be a bad thing.
School-related anxiety can be related to performance and grades, low self-esteem, bullying, or friendships. And it can get in the way of a lot of stuff.
By the way, if someone is worrying about school because of bullying – this is not acceptable and they should contact a trusted adult immediately.
If left unchecked, anxiety may mess with your sleep, appetite and concentration, and you may start to withdraw from things you used to like. If this is the case, you may want to seek help.
It’s important to remember feeling anxious doesn’t necessarily mean someone has an anxiety disorder.
One of the best ways to cope with anxiety is to talk about it. This might be with a family member, a school counsellor or your GP. You can also talk to us at headspace – we’re a free and confidential service for people aged 12-25 in Mandurah, and we can help if you’re struggling with feeling anxious, worried or overwhelmed.
Another tip that’s backed up by science: breathe slowly and deeply. When you do this, you actually trick that part of your brain that’s trying to help you into believing it isn’t needed.
Contact headspace Mandurah by calling 9544 5900, or popping in to see us at the Peel Health Hub at 91 Allnutt Street.
Meagan Ullrich is a headspace community awareness officer in Mandurah.