Helping secondary school students to manage anxious thoughts and worries through our Listening Service
May 10, 2023
Feeling anxious is a natural human emotion and a lot of things can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Our Wellbeing Practitioners, who are based in secondary schools across the Island delivering our low-level Listening Service, support students with anxious thoughts and worries around exam pressures, friendship issues, bullying, and low self-esteem.
Whilst someone that’s formally diagnosed with anxiety would require a higher level of psychological support than that of our Listening Service, the support that our Wellbeing Practitioners provide to students at an early stage can help to prevent anxious thoughts from escalating into anxiety.
Some of the ways and techniques our Wellbeing Practitioners help students understand and manage their anxious thoughts are:
Working with Thoughts
They talk with students about how their thoughts affect their emotions and feelings, which then affect their behaviours and the actions they take (or don’t take). Our brains are designed to notice the negative, which can sometimes lead to us thinking of the worst-case scenario. Challenging our worrying thoughts, and attempting to reframe them into more balanced and realistic thoughts, can help us feel calmer and more confident. This then allows us to do more of the things we want.
We explain how worry and anxious feelings affect our physical bodies because when we don’t fully understand what’s happening to us, physical symptoms of anxiety can feel scary and we might think there’s something wrong or that we’re unwell. Learning about the fight/flight response and its purpose can help us understand ourselves and why we react the way we do.
An important part of managing anxious feelings is understanding how to manage those feelings when they occur. These are mainly immediate, physical actions a young person can take in the moment to help regulate their physical symptoms, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. This gives them an opportunity to calm down and to approach the situation feeling braver.
The theme for this this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Anxiety’, and it is one of the most common mental health problems people face. The week is vital to us for increasing public understanding of the importance of mental health on our Island. We firmly believe that by empowering young people from an early age with the skills and emotional resilience to effectively manage their mental health and wellbeing, they will be better equipped to deal with the stresses and setbacks they will face throughout their lives.
Learn more about parenting anxious children and young people