Young person (NRM) writes more about how to overcome anxiety

In her Self Help Guide to Dealing with Worry, NRM continues to provide strategies for other young people about how to overcome anxiety.

"Thinking is not merely sitting with one hand on your cheek, looking bored and daydreaming. Well, not to me at least. I've worried about everything and anything there is to worry about. I don't like to be questioned about this, because then I'll be concerned (and paranoid) about there being other worries I haven't thought of yet!"

She writes about when she started secondary school and how dealing with change can be a big worry for lots of young people. There are many new concerns and fears, and, she adds, "worrying hurts and hurt is the last thing you need when you're trying to cope with something new."

She helpfully talks about about how worries or anxieties can cause a physical reaction the body. 

When you worry, you might feel: 

  • Tired of it (particularly if you worry excessively)
  • Very hot and sweaty
  • Very cold (but sometimes still sweaty)
  • Immensely confused
  • Distant from others and irritable. (You are so focused on your worry, you can't listen to others, or even care what they have to say.Your worry takes up every bit of space in your head)
  • Headachey
  • Maybe even a bit sick  

NRM helpfully reflects on what might be happening to the body when someone is gripped by fear and anxiety.

"As I found out, worry causes all of these things because when you panic or are anxious, your heart races and seems louder. Blood needs to be pumped around your body, causing unnecessary heat and sweating or even throbbing headaches."  She describes, what she calls "the worry pie",  where a large slice of the pie is psychological, not physical - even if the worry is felt in the body. She also draws a personal worry graph. 

"As you can see from my worry graph, my worry level escalates the second the awful worry contemplation kicks in."

After a moment of feeling "poor me" as NRM puts it, she is surprised to find that the catastrophe doesn't happen and the worry level decreases.

Last week NRM wrote about imagining clouds parting and passing, as a way of dealing with anxiety, this week she adds another two methods:

"If your body has become just as overwhelmed as your mind, then try going for a walk - if possible, with someone you know and trust and somewhere familiar.

Or, alternatively, say to yourself over and over again: "Ok, I've worried, but now the worry will pass very soon. Concentrate on and have confidence in the knowledge that the worry will pass, it's not as powerful as you feared. Repeat this process of talking yourself through the peak of worrying, until a level of confidence kicks in - you know that the worry has faded - you've done it. Then consider doing some mild exercise - you should feel great."

Alison Roy, child and adolescent psychotherapist, comments: "When a young person is supported to find his or her own methods for overcoming a worrying situation,  memory or sensation, they feel stronger and more resourceful. It's such a revelation to them, they can feel more grown up, but also more hopeful. It's as if they have suddenly become aware that they have power to change things in the present.  It's important to allow young people the chance to find their own solutions, with support, rather than telling them what to do or say. They can be exceptionally wise and insightful, especially when they feel helped and understood themselves. This allows for self-reflection and enables them to face their difficulties in a straightforward way. This process though, can take time and trust in others. Finding a safe place to be oneself, away from persecuting material, is vital for healing and re-charging the healthy parts of the personality.

Read previous comments from NRM here: Young person writes about how to overcome anxiety