Different types of mental health problems - Stress and anxiety
From time to time, everyone feels stressed or anxious – these feelings are quite normal reactions to challenging events in our lives... and indeed, they can be useful since they can act as warning signs and tell us that perhaps we need to slow down or to be careful and think about what we are planning to do.
How stress and anxiety affect people
Stress and anxiety can affect you physically and mentally – they can make it hard to:
- Take decisions
- Deal with frustration
- Control your temper
- Keep your sense of humour
- Or they can make a person feel restless and jumpy, to have problems sleeping, to feel breathless, to feel fearful, to have headaches or even to feel sick or dizzy.
When stress or anxiety builds up to the point that the feelings are really strong, some people can also have what are called “panic attacks”. They may “freeze” and be totally unable to deal with the situation that is worrying them.
It’s important to look after your own health needs and to take action and get some help if you feel that the stress or anxiety you are feeling is building up.
Sometimes people who are stressed or anxious feel very trapped and can’t think of a way out of the situation that is bothering them – if this is the case, it can be very helpful to find someone you trust to talk to. They can help you to:
- see the situation from another perspective
- make a plan of what you need to do – and the things that can wait
- work out what you might do differently
- share the load – which might include identifying someone who can take over some tasks for you.
Ideas for relieving stress and anxiety
It can be very helpful to think ahead about the situations that stress you or make you feel anxious and to plan how you might deal with them differently – visualise the situation going really well and how this might feel.
Take decisions one at a time and plan in small steps what you can achieve – trying to do everything can often feel overwhelming and can lead to nothing being done... which then adds to the stress and anxiety you are feeling.
Remember to have enough to eat and drink and to get enough sleep.
Do something you enjoy beforehand – go for a walk, listen to some music, do some cooking, talk to your friends – and plan something nice for afterwards as well.
Take regular breaks from what you are doing – sometimes it is better to stop, review what the situation is and re-plan rather than battling on to complete something.
Other things that can help
Some of the other things than can help, especially in reducing feelings of anxiety include:
- Going on a training course in assertiveness
- Complementary therapies and relaxation techniques – for example, yoga and meditation
For more info
Read the Signs is a website that aims to promote help seeking and provides information on managing stress, anxiety and depression including self-help options and where to go for help.
ChildLine has a section on exam stress. Childline offers a confidential helpline for young people – 0800 1111.
Find out about other types of mental health problems teenagers and young people can face.
Find out where you can get support
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays