TIPS AND STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING ANXIETY

Anxiety is a fear-based emotion that feels like nervousness, apprehension or worry; it can be directed at specific circumstances and events, or just a general feeling throughout the day. Everyone gets anxious – it’s a natural part of life, and part of a healthy emotional expression, just like anger, sadness or happiness. However, when it feels like it’s having an impact on our general wellbeing, it can be useful to reintroduce some balance, and feel like we have some tools in our ‘emotional tool kit’, to help us feel more relaxed and in control.

Notice any physical symptoms

Anxiety can often feel very physical – from the sweaty palms and flushed face, to the headaches and stomachaches, rushing heart or dizziness. Notice any ways that your body warns you that you’re just about to start feeling anxious.

Sometimes just a little attendance to physical symptoms can make you feel instantly better, more comfortable, and more in control. You could try:

  • Running cold water on your wrists or splash a little cold water on your face;
  • Focusing on your breathing – breathe slowly in for 7 counts, and out for 11;
  • Drink a glass of water, and eat a light snack;
  • If there is a particular area that feels sore, like your tummy or your forehead, rub it gently and lightly.

Get your thinking brain back online

Anxiety is created in the part of our brain that assesses risk – it’s a really instinctive part of the brain, and actually not a very ‘thinky’ part of the brain. Unhelpfully, when this part of the brain really gets going, it can send the cognitive (thinking) part of our brain offline – it’s like the wifi drops out! Get yourself thinking again with something like a sudoku, word puzzle, board game or counting backwards from 1000 and then…

When you’ve got yourself thinking again, ask yourself a few questions. Are you *actually* safe? Is there any *real* risk? If you are safe and there is no risk, what steps do you need to make to feel safer? It might be talking to a friend, going for a short walk, or distracting yourself with a book or YouTube video – think about what you need to do to get back on track.

Be as kind to yourself as you would to your best friend

We can often be super understanding to our friends, and then give ourselves a really hard time. Feeling anxious doesn’t mean you’re silly or weak – in fact, feeling anxious is a clever protection, that warns us of potential danger. It’s only when it starts calling the shots and running our lives that anxiety becomes unhelpful. Speak to yourself as kindly as you would to a best friend or small child – it’s hard enough feeling anxious, you don’t need to feel anxious and then shout at yourself!

This doesn’t have to define you

Anxiety can make us feel super exposed – like we’re on show and everyone can tell we’re permanently worried or scared. Honestly, often we’re the only ones who know how bad we feel. Some of the most interesting, cool, talented people in the world have a hard time regulating their anxiety (Olly Murs, Beyonce and Jennifer Lawrence have all spoken about their struggle with anxiety). This is a part of you, but it doesn’t have to define you.

Talk to someone you trust

It’s tough to deal with this stuff alone – if you can, talk to a close friend, a parent or sibling, a teacher, or someone you trust at a club or faith group you go to. Sharing our feelings can feel daunting, but speaking to someone trustworthy can help us to feel less isolated, and give us more support and resources to deal with our feelings.

Sometimes it can feel easier to talk to a stranger and, if that’s the case, there are other options. Childline is always there to help, and your GP can be helpful if you feel that anxiety is starting to get the better of you. Alternatively, why not speak to a parent about accessing some counselling?

By Vicky Bellman, Fegans’ Counsellor

the assemblies

Fegans are proud to partner with The Poetry Society’s Slambassador programme. As part of our ‘Seasons of Change’ exhibition Fegans will be hosting a series of ‘Headspace’ Assemblies in all the secondary schools in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. There will also be a two day workshop on 10th – 11th April, at The Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, and The Forum with previous SLAM Champion and acclaimed spoken word artist Deanna Rodger. To read more about Deanna’s work click here.

HOW TO BOOK FOR FREE SLAMBASSADOR WORKSHOP

Click here to register for our FREE SLAMbassador Workshops on the 10th – 11th April. Tickets include both days. Learn how to Slam from the best, workshop hosted by Deanna Rodger. On day two everyone will have the opportunity to perform, and be filmed, with at option of being entered into the SLAMbassadors 2018 nationwide competition.

PLEASE NOTE:  If the ticket you are interested in is SOLD OUT, please email elizabeth.barrett@fegans.org.uk to be added to the waiting list.

Dean Atta is a poet from London, UK. His debut collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, published by the Westbourne Press, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday Pink List and featured in Out News Global Pride Power List.

Dean will be our guest artist at a selection of the ‘Headspace’ Assemblies.

 

Cecilia Knapp is a writer, performer, theatre maker and poet. Over the last few years Cecilia has headlined at some of the UK’s top poetry nights. She’s performed on stages at festivals including Bestival, Secret Garden Party and Wilderness.

Cecilia will be our guest artist at a selection of the ‘Headspace’ Assemblies.

 

Deanna is an international writer, performer and facilitator. She co-curates two leading spoken word events: Chill Pill and Come Rhyme With Me and is on the board of Safe Ground. Commissions include: Under The Skin (St Paul’s Cathedral), Now We Are Here (Young Vic), Women Who Spit (BBC IPlayer) and Buckingham Palace (NYT).

Deanna will be the spoken word artist hosting our SLAMbassador Workshops.

 

CASE STUDY: WILL’S* STORY

Will*, 14, is suffering from bullying at school. He used to be quite outgoing but is now refusing to attend school and stays in his room gaming. His mother cannot get him out of bed and even when she does, he will not go to school. He did agree, however, to see a Fegans’ counsellor, who helped him talk about the root causes of his school refusal. He had been targeted by a group of boys in the year above and found that avoiding school was his ‘best way out’.

The counsellor helped him talk about the feelings he had when confronted by that group of boys; the fear, anxiety and panic. The counsellor worked with him to talk about his options and the people to whom he could turn. He drew a picture that he could keep with him of all the resources and people who could help. This helped him feel safe and he returned to school. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

CASE STUDY: SARAH’S* STORY

Sarah*, 14, is starting her GCSE’s and her mum and dad have just split up. Some days she’s at mum’s house, some at dad’s. It didn’t used to be like this. She can’t concentrate at school, her friends’ parents are still together and her brother seems to be coping much better than her.

Seeing a Fegans’ counsellor gave Sarah a safe place to voice her feelings, feelings she felt she couldn’t express to anyone else – her confusion (I had no idea it was that bad), her fears for the future (how am I going to cope with this?), her anger (it’s not fair) and sadness (everything has changed). Counselling couldn’t get mum and dad back together but over time it did help Sarah accept her new life. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

 

CASE STUDY: BECKY’S* STORY

Becky*, 15, had been self harming for months. She wanted to stop but couldn’t. When things got too much with her friends or she’d had yet another row with her boyfriend, cutting her legs seemed the only way to relieve the stress but then she’d hate herself for it. It all came out when she was changing for PE and her friend spotted the signs and encouraged her to go to counselling, which Becky did not feel would help.

To Becky’s surprise counselling did help. Becky learned how she had kept everything inside and why. She realised how she’d been burying her worries about mum’s cancer and about getting behind at school. After all, mum would normally be the first person she talked to. Becky’s counsellor offered her a safe place to express all these feelings and over time she no longer needed to self harm to cope. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

CASE STUDY: SAM’S* STORY

Sam*, 12, had been finding secondary school harder and harder. It was huge in comparison to his village primary school – so many buildings, so many people, so much banter. He felt he didn’t belong and became completely overwhelmed. He couldn’t concentrate in class because he dreaded social time, waiting for the next boy to shove him into the lockers.

Over time counselling helped Sam to understand himself and his personality better and taught him to be more assertive. He now spends his lunchtimes with his new friends in the music block and can stand up for himself more. School isn’t perfect but he has found ways to cope and feels better about himself. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

 

THE book

As part of Fegans’ commitment to supporting young people, we have produced a book that is all about you. It’s your personal place to write down what you want out of life, your rules, your relationships, and how you can go about acheiving your dreams. Written by Fegans’ Counsellor Georgina Cuthbertson, we discuss what you can do to help yourself in emotional and mental wellbeing. Click here to buy a copy for £5 + PP. Schools and organisations can order in bulk for a discounted rate.

How to find 'Seasons of Change'

Tunbridge Wells Art Gallery and Museum, Mount Pleasant Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1JN

Seasons of Change

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