|  Reviewed by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

What is it?

Anxiety is a very common emotion that we all experience at some point in our life. It is characterized by an amplified and chronic state of tension and worry that may be caused by either a specific situation or no apparent reason. Anxiety is often accompanied by different symptoms, such as muscle tension, fatigue, headaches, and nausea, but also irritability, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, loss of motivation, and sometimes even depression. It’s important, however, to understand that anxiety is also at the heart of an adaptive and protective system all humans benefit from. It alerts us of and protects us from future potential threats in our environment and helps us mobilize our resources to face such threats. Problems arise when we experience excessive amounts of anxiety due to intense stress that overwhelms the adaptive function of this emotion, thus creating disruptions in our life because our coping abilities are being overtaxed.

What is feeling anxious telling your young person?

Anxiety is like an alarm system that’s telling them that something important is going on. Although it’s not a very pleasant emotion, it warns them of a potential danger and helps them respond to that danger. Getting rid of their ability to feel anxiety would be as problematic as losing their ability to feel pain. It would make them physically and emotionally vulnerable. But too much of it will also cause them distress. It’s all about finding the right balance.

Suggestions for your young person on how to manage anxiety?
  • Learn about and practice mindfulness. Help them breathe deeply, cultivate their emotional awareness, and learn how to identify and manage their triggers.
  • Meditate, meditate, and meditate some more! Support them in learning to breathe, focus, restore inner peace, and let go of excessive worry with the help of meditation.
  • Don’t run away from anxiety. Ask your young person to write down their thoughts and what makes them anxious. Let those thoughts out of their head and let them dissipate.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Help them take good care of their body and mind with good sleep, exercise, and eating habits.
  • Remind them to spend more time with positive and uplifting people who make them feel good.