Training ourselves to deal with anxiety well
We all experience anxiety from time to time.
For some it is a fairly easy feeling to dismiss, and they are able to rationalise why they feel the way they do quite quickly. For some of us, it is not quite as simple, and feelings of worry, fear, and general dis-ease may linger for a long time.
In some instances anxiety can be a very good motivator. A teenager who has not started studying for their GCSEs a week before they are due to start, needs a little anxiety to kick-start them into action. This is a healthy stress response to a situation which requires urgent attention. However, the young person who has worked diligently all year long, has taken notes and made revision cards weeks in advance, probably has little to fear. Too much anxiety in this instance may have a very negative impact.
Growing up is an especially anxiety-provoking experience, and young people approaching their teens may begin to feel quite unsure of themselves. Experiencing some form of anxious feelings during these formative years is quite normal, and while they are dealing with where they fit in socially, and whether they have anything significant to offer, it is not unusual to go through some hairy moments with our children.
There are those who do struggle intensely, and they need a lot of time, patience and love. Children who experience intense anxiety can find it very crippling, and this can impact their desire to come to school, to meet with friends over weekends, or even take part in activities that they love. Creating a stable environment where they feel safe and accepted is vital, and maintaining open channels of communication is very important. It may be helpful to speak to a professional in these instances; however, the right match needs to be made, so that the young person in question does not feel judged or shamed.
Building the confidence of someone who does struggle with intense anxious feeling takes time, and small steps need to be taken. Affirming them when they have done something that has required them to step out of their comfort zone is very helpful, and will go a long way to helping them feel that they are developing some resilience. One should gently encourage them not to avoid spending time with their friends, and taking part in activities that give them a sense of achievement and joy. Special family time is very important, as the anxiety experienced is often related to feelings of isolation and feeling misunderstood.
Putting a strong support network in place for children who struggle with anxiety is important. They should try to identify someone at school who they can go to for support if they are feeling overwhelmed. They should also be helped to negotiate a space where they can go to reset when feelings become too intense.
There is no quick fix, but there are strategies that can be put in place to help children who feel anxious and overwhelmed. Please do speak to any of the Pastoral Team should you need some advice.
Assistant Deputy Head / Director of Wellbeing
Head of PSHEe / Deputy DSL / Assistant Housemaster