What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion we may experience sometimes, particularly when we are in new or stressful situations. It’s the way our body reacts to what is happening around us. It gives us a warning signal that we need to change something in order to be or feel safe again.

When we are in these situations where we start to feel anxious, worried or scared, it can sometimes be a normal and common emotion. The emotion can range from being mild – like having butterflies in our stomach and feeling a bit nervous for our first day at school – or it can be more severe – like feeling absolutely terrified about something that puts us in danger, with persistent thoughts that seem to overwhelm us. Most people, however, experience mild anxiety.

What Is Stress?

Stress is the strain we experience in response to change. You will experience it as being out of your comfort zone.

In some circumstances, stress can actually help us to function at our best. It pushes us into action and motivates us to work hard. You may have felt stressed for an exam and then studied extra hard to make sure you aced it. This is a way stress can push us and actually help us. However, when stress is too overwhelming, it has a very negative affect on us. It overwhelms us and prevents us from doing our best.

It is important to manage our stress levels in order to be productive in school and in our social life. You may not know what this looks like for you yet and it will take time for you to learn how to balance all your priorities so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.

When you experience a high level of stress, it can cause you to feel:

When we experience too much stress and anxiety, this can have impacts on our physical health too. These are some examples:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension, tremors
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness, insomnia

While it can be inconvenient and scary, it is normal to experience these emotions in our daily life, especially during our teenage years, which are full of change and uncertainty.


However, there are times when our anxiety becomes louder and more obvious – to a point where it can interfere with our ability to focus, attend school or perform at our best potential. It can even affect our social activities, where it becomes difficult to keep up with friends or participate in activities. This is the time for us to take note of it and either use some of the tips outlined below, or seek support.


There are many things we can do on a daily basis to reduce stress, help our body and mind calm down and feel better. Check the tips below!

  1. Normal reaction
    With all the changes that are going on around you, understand that your anxiety is normal. You are not alone in how you feel. Talk to your friends and family about how you feel. Normalize talking about your emotions instead of being embarrassed by them. Remember, your anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty and change!
  2. Distractions are your friend
    When we are faced with difficult situations, we tend to focus on all the things that we have little control over. Focus your attention on things you can control. Think of positive distractions like activities that make you feel calm, relaxed and happy. It could be dancing, drawing, painting, making music, and writing: whatever works for you! Try to do it at least once a day. These activities will help you relax and increase your energy and your mood!
  3. Creative Connections
    This is the time to flex your creative muscles! There are many ways to get creative about how you can connect to your friends and do more fun things, even if it’s from a distance. Start that online band you always wanted to explore, have themed dress up calls, share how you feel. Also, reach out to friends and adults you trust. Spending time with people you like and love will help you deal with your emotions, build self-esteem and will actually make you feel healthier and happier!
  4. Take care of yourself Your body and mind are connected. When you feel stressed or anxious, try to take care of yourself by:
    Breathing: A simple breathing exercise can help you relax when you feel overwhelmed and prevent you from sliding into a full-blown anxiety.
    Exercise: Focus on the breaths – Sit in a space by yourself, uncross your arms and legs and close your eyes. Focus on your breaths while you breathe deeply in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This focus will empty your mind, slow your heart rate and help you to feel relaxed.
    You can also check out these websites for more information:
  5. Focus on your daily routines
    • Eating healthy and drinking enough water throughout the day will elevate your mood.
    • Going to bed before midnight so you can get good quality sleep, ensures a productive day.
    • Getting active every day will energize you.
    • Limiting your screen time and committing to talking to those around you more will be healthy distractions from your anxiety.

What can I do for an anxious friend or family member?

  • Be: make yourself available online, in person on the phone. Plan fun activities with them, share your feelings too!
  • Listen: listen without distraction. You don’t need to have answers, advice or solutions just show you are interested and be there for them.
  • Share: share some of the tips and tools that are mentioned above about taking care of yourself: breathe calmly, working out, do fun activities, etcetera.
  • Encourage: Invite them to inform a trusted adult (like a parent, family member, teacher, sports coach etc.) and seek support or maybe even help from a professional.