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You’ve got a knot in the pit of your stomach and no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to hide the fact that your palms are sweating. Does this sound familiar? Anxiety affects 1 in 8 children just like you, so rest assured that how you are feeling isn’t abnormal. What is it exactly that you are experiencing? How can you feel better? Keep reading to understand your body’s reaction and learn some tips to calm it down.
Why Do I Feel Like This?
Believe it or not, the anxiety you are experiencing has a specific purpose: protection. Unfortunately, this survival mechanism can sometimes go a little too far. When you are in danger, your body triggers an alarm to alert you to the situation. This is why you might feel uneasy walking home from a friend’s house when it is getting dark. Sometimes the alarm goes haywire, and you feel anxious when there isn’t any immediate danger. Something as small as a thought, such as worrying about your math test or having to present a project in front of the class, can trip the anxiety alarm. When there isn’t anything to fight or run away from (think the fight-or-flight response), you are left with physical symptoms such as sweating, fast breathing, shaking, queasiness, racing thoughts, and an overall feeling of panic.
Anxiety isn’t a fun experience, but thankfully there are several ways you can calm your stress and keep your anxiety at bay.
Relax Your Mind and Body
There are several ways to combat anxiety, but the best place to start is with the culprit – your mind. You probably have several TV shows that you love to watch as you lounge on the couch or a favorite video game, but all the action and stimulation could be making you more tense. All that screen time can leave you feeling revved up rather than relaxed. You don’t have to completely unplug from the world of electronics, but on those days when your anxiety is taking its toll, opt for relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga. You might feel a little silly, but deep breathing relaxes one of the major nerves that run from your diaphragm to your brain, giving your body the message that it needs to loosen up and relax.
Take Care of Yourself
While it’s important to take care of your brain, don’t forget about the rest of your body. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, nourishment, and exercise. There will be times when you feel anxious, so the key is make sure you are strong enough to face your anxieties head on. Try to get 8 – 11 hours of sleep each night, and limit your screen time right before bed to help you wind down. Although bedtimes aren’t fun, do your best to go to sleep, or at least be in your room, at the same time each night to get your mind and body on a sleep cycle. Pair a good night’s rest with healthy foods and exercise. Tap into your favorite activities to get your heart pumping such as sports, playing with your pet, or fun games like tag or hide-and-seek.
Don’t forget to spend time with friends and family, as doing things with people you are close to not only strengthens those bonds, but also makes you feel supported and safe. Whenever you are feeling anxious, talk to someone you trust who can listen and help you cope. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your anxiety is stemming from test anxiety or a hard time understanding certain concepts, talk with your parents about the possibility of hiring a tutor. Perhaps the anxiety you feel before a big sports game leaves you feeling unable to participate. Talk with your coach about how you are feeling, and ask for some pointers. They are there to not only support you, but also help you be the best athlete and person you can be.
If you feel like you can’t manage your anxiety on your own, talk to your school guidance counselor as well as your parents about how you are feeling. They will be able to put you on the right path to the treatment you need. In the meantime, continue using coping techniques to calm your anxiety and tone down that anxiety alarm.
This blog post was written by Noah Smith. Noah loves sharing his travel advice on WellnessVoyager.com. He tries to take one big trip each year. He’s currently saving up to backpack through Europe.
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.