This week is the annual Mental Health Awareness week and this year it will focus on anxiety. Here at BookLife, we believe talking about mental health is really important having published several books on the topic. To mark this year’s Mental Health Awareness week, we’ve put together a helpful blog all about anxiety, its symptoms, and treatments children can use for it.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a word we use to describe the feelings of worry and fear that we all experience from time to time. It is something both children and adults experience, and it is completely normal. Anxiety usually occurs as a reaction to a threat or an event that may happen. More often than not, the things we are anxious about happening never actually occur.
Examples of anxiety in children could be starting at a new school and being worried about not making any friends or worrying about doing poorly in a spelling test. It’s easy to think of anxiety as a friend that is trying to protect us, when in reality anxiety can hold us back from enjoying life because we are too busy worrying about something that might happen. It’s important to explain anxiety to children so they know that it’s a completely normal human reaction and that they are aware of the signs.
Symptoms of Anxiety
When we feel anxious it can cause all sorts of symptoms that can sometimes be quite scary and make the anxiety worse. Dealing with our anxiety helps prevent the symptoms from building up and getting worse. Making sure children are aware of the symptoms can help them recognise when they are feeling anxious and know that it’s nothing to be worried about. Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Struggle sleeping
- Tight chest
- Blurry vision
- Increased heart rate
- Stomach ache
Using anxiety techniques can help your mind and body to relax and ease your symptoms when feeling anxious. If we don’t deal with anxiety, it can get worse and become more of a problem, making it harder to concentrate on important things. Here are examples of anxiety treatments that are suitable for children:
Slow breathing – breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, hold for two, breathe out through the mouth for five seconds. Repeat until you feel calm.
Safe space – this involves picturing a safe space in your head, somewhere that makes you feel relaxed. Close your eyes and verbally talk through the details of that safe space, focusing on your senses, and imagine yourself there.
Alphabetical listing – listing things alphabetically such as animals helps the mind to focus on something other than the anxiety, which can calm the body and reduce the symptoms.
Talking treatment - talking about mental health is just as important as talking about physical health but it can be hard to put thoughts into words, especially for children. Talking to someone they trust about how they feel using a scale from one to ten can help, with ten being the most anxious and one being really relaxed.
Sensory Grounding – Breathe in for the count of four and out for the count of six. Look around you and list five things you can see. Listen and think of four things you can hear. Pay attention to your body and what you can feel around you.
If you would like to learn more about mental health and anxiety, and ways to treat it, check out the books in our PSHE section here.