Anxiety centres around a part of the brain called the amygdala and reflects a fight or flight response to a threat. Often though, anxiety can show up, not in response to danger, but to something meaningful or important. Examples may include an exam, a performance, trying something new, meeting new people, doing something brave. The ‘threat’ that is registered in the brain is related to messing up or missing out. This fear might include shame, failure, humiliation, making a mistake, exclusion, judgment, or criticism. When it comes to anxiety, dangerous things, important things, or meaningful things can all feel the same.
There is a range of ways that can help deal with anxiety:
- Deep breathing
- Regular Exercise
- A healthy diet and sleep patterns
- Practicing Mindfulness
- Encouragement and support from others
- Practicing 'Acts of Gratitude'
- Taking 'baby steps' to deal with things
These activities help to retrain the brain in regards to not responding to various situations as fight or flight. Many of these support activities are already part of the Kennedy Pastoral Care Program including Physical Education, Mindfulness in Thrive classes, Gratitude Week and Positive Education breathing techniques among others. Our counselling team is also available to help students navigate any anxious feelings they may have.
Of course, ongoing or deep anxiety should be addressed with a medical professional.
If you are interested in reading more about anxiety and adolescent, psychologist Karen Young has authored a couple of worthwhile books - Hey Warrior, Hey Awesome and But We’re Not Lions. Her website, heysigmund.com is also worth a visit.
Mr Wendel Pether,
Deputy Principal of Pastoral Care