Anxiety is a completely normal feeling to have. We will all feel anxious at some point in our lives – it’s our natural response when a situation feels threatening, intimidating or overwhelming. It's also possible to feel anxious in the face of positivity. You might really want to do well in an exam, or really want to ace that job interview. When the feeling strikes, your anxiety might feel like it's spiralling out of control, so we've put together five useful tips to help you manage your anxiety.


Girl looking thoughtful in front of a shelf of books - she is holding a pillow suggesting feelings of anxiety


When Does Anxiety Happen?

There are no strict rules explaining what causes you to feel anxious. Everyone is different, so different situations will trigger different feelings. Some people may feel anxious around animals, whilst others feel completely at home. The same goes for large bodies of water, or heights - it's specific to you and your experiences.

However, there are some situations which commonly cause anxiety amongst people. These often include everyday actions, such as putting your hand up in class or talking to the cashier behind the till. Other common causes of anxious feelings are exams, applications or interviews. This anxiety can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, this can cause physical symptoms like sweaty palms, a fast heartbeat or breathlessness.

One in four people deal with anxiety. We also know that children in care are four times more likely to have a mental health difficulty. If you’re struggling with anxiety, you’re not alone. You can use our practical tips below to help you overcome anxiety when it strikes.

Tip #1: Talk to Someone

The thought of telling someone about your anxiety might make you feel even more anxious, but bear with us.

The act of talking and being listened to often feels like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Releasing your emotions and sharing your problems can help you to relieve tension, reach a conclusion, and can make you feel understood and valued.

You could talk to a friend, a counsellor, the NYAS Helpline or a trusted adult like an Independent Visitor.

Tip #2: Question Your Anxiety

When you find yourself feeling anxious, ask yourself: ‘Why am I anxious?’

Once you’ve identified the source of your anxiety, then ask yourself: ‘Am I anxious about something I can control, or something I can’t?’

Do you have any control over the situation? If you answered ‘yes’, then try thinking of practical things you can do to help alleviate your anxiety. For example, if you’re worried about doing well in an exam, set aside some time to revise. If you’re stressed because your room is messy, take just 15 minutes to tidy one area and make a start.

Are you in a situation where you don't have any control over the situation? If you answered ‘yes’, then try gently correcting yourself. Catching these negative, anxious thoughts and reminding ourselves that they are simply that – thoughts – can help us to feel more in control. You might not be able to control what’s happening around you, but you can control your thoughts.


Tip #3: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

This is a nice phrase, but what does it actually mean?

Take, for example, someone who is afraid of public speaking. To them, the thought of standing in front of a crowd and talking is terrifying.

Regardless of their fear, they need to give a presentation to their class. If they don’t, they won’t get the marks they need to complete their course. So, they give the presentation despite their sweaty hands and their racing heart and they’re shaking legs. And what happened? The presentation - that’s all.

Doing something that frightens us can actually prove to our brains that the reality isn’t as scary as we think it might be. In face, it rarely ever is. By facing your fears, you can actually diminish them.

Tip #4: Practice Mindfulness

The thing about anxiety is that it often makes you worry and stress about things that have already happened or have yet to happen. You can struggle to enjoy the present because you're stuck worrying about the past or future. You can’t change these things, so this kind of anxiety isn’t useful – it isn’t saving us from a perceived threat.

Mindfulness traches you to focus on the present; the here and now.

  • What can you see around you right now?
  • What can you smell?
  • What can you feel?
  • What can you hear?

Activities like going for a walk, colouring or reading a book are all great ways to practice mindfulness. They force you to be in the moment, limiting the space in your brain to think about the past or future, and by default, helpling to reduce your anxious feelings.

Tip #5: Be Kind to Yourself

Anxiety is normal – it’s a natural response to danger and is not something you can get rid of. So if you do find yourself feeling so anxious that it’s affecting your life, don’t be hard on yourself. There isn’t something ‘wrong’ with you. In fact, getting frustrated about feeling anxious can only lead to even more anxiety.

Instead, remind yourself that you can and will get through whatever is making you feel anxious. Do things that make you happy, challenge your negative thoughts, and don’t compare yourself to others.

Here to Support You

And those are our top five tips to help you overcome your anxiety. These actions are useful because you can use them in any situation - try practising them when you're not feeling anxious to get into the habit of using them. This will make the techniques feel more natural when you need to use them. 

Remember, if you're a care experienced child, young person or vulnerable adult, NYAS can provide extra support if you're struggling. . If you’re feeling like no one listens to you, or like no one cares, our advocates  can help make your voice be heard. If you're a care leaver who feels anxious about the uncertainty of your future, you can explore our care leaver support options.

To find out more, call our Helpline on 0808 808 1001, email or use the live chat feature in the bottom right corner of this webpage.

Do you feel like you need expert support to help you manage your mental health? Visit Young Minds to access expert advice and guidance to support you as you mange your mental health,

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