Understanding ‘the science’ of why our brains and bodies respond in the ways that they do when under pressure can be helpful. Finding coping strategies to ‘slow’ things down when they are feeling overwhelming are also useful. These strategies are skills for life and improve with practise.
Anxiety is sometimes referred to as ‘Fight, Flight and Freeze’. These videos from Anxiety Canada explain this really well:
For some people talking about their difficulties can help, for others they want practical tips and coping strategies to change their thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes young people might find it difficult to try some of these relaxation/calming exercises on their own, but they are something that could be done alongside someone they trust like a parent or carer. Using a picture to help explain or remind us of strategies can help. TidyMindDoodles is a website by Natalie Hanley, a Mental Health Professional working in the UK which has some doodles relating to mental health and wellbeing. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.
There are a selection of resources below that may be helpful:
The following leaflets and websites give general information about anxiety and give some ideas of how to manage it:
- Understanding and coping with anxiety leaflet
- Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) leaflet
- Childline website about managing anxiety, stress and panic
- Managing exam stress page
There are phone apps that can be useful for managing mental health and wellbeing generally. This list of self-help phone apps has been created by the NHS. Some phone apps are also listed on the Managing exam stress page.
Developing a growth mindset can also be helpful, which is a way of thinking and behaving that is based on the belief that intelligence (and emotions) can change and improve with meaningful effort. We learn more from mistakes than getting it right first time and if something is confusing and difficult at first and we work through the confusion then we learn it better and for longer.
Here are some different relaxation exercises to try. Relaxation exercise is like any other form of exercise – it gets easier and more beneficial with regular practise.