What is anxiety?

Anxiety is something we all experience at some point in our lives. It is a normal response to situations which may seem threatening. For example, it would be natural to feel anxious when sitting a driving test, taking an exam or being interviewed. Anxiety can actually help us to focus and cope better in situations which are challenging or where we need to perform well. After the stressful situation we can usually calm down and feel better.

However, for some people, even when they’re not in a stressful situation they can become worried or panicky. This is when anxiety can be problematic.

What are the symptoms?

Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, on edge, or panicky all the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed or full of dread
  • Feeling out of control
  • Heart beating really fast or thinking you’re having a heart attack
  • Feeling like there’s a weight on your chest
  • Felling like there’s energy coursing through your body
  • Trembling, or having wobbly legs
  • Feeling faint
  • Stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea/needing to pee more than usual
  • Getting very hot and sweating

What can help?

If your symptoms are too intense or last for too long, it could be a sign that you might need additional support. Talking about it can be really helpful and is often the first step to feeling better. Speak to a trusted friend or family member, or contact our Therapy Service on to talk to one of our therapeutic counsellors. They can offer one-off drop-in appointments or weekly counselling sessions.

Alternatively, you could try:

  • Mindfulness and meditation:
    • Apps such as Calm and Headspace can help

  • Grounding techniques:
    • Breathe in for four, hold, and then out for six and hold
    • Activate the senses – notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste
  • Coping statements:
    • “I have got through this before and I will get through this again”
    • “My anxiety will not hurt me”
    • “I can breathe; I am calm”
    • “Everything is okay”
    • “I am happy, I am healthy, I have many people who love me”
  • Giving yourself time to worry:
    • Set time aside in the day when you’re going to do nothing but worry. This can help you to let go of your worries for the rest of the day

  • Reframing unhelpful thoughts:

  • Expressing your emotions:
    • Releasing your emotions can help you feel better and enter into a calmer state
  • Keeping a journal:
    • Regularly write or record how you’re feeling and what’s been happening in your life. You could do it every day, or whenever you feel you want to. It can help to:
      • let your feelings out
      • see what you’ve written and think about things differently
      • learn more about what makes you anxious and what helps
      • think about new ways to cope or different things you could try

 Additional Resources

Supporting your child with anxiety

If your child is struggling with worry or anxiety, click on the link to find out how you can support them and places you can get help.


You can also download this handy guide from the parents guide to