What is Anxiety?
Feelings of anxiousness in certain situations is normal and can help us avoid danger. Fear triggers our fight or flight response. Anxiety occurs when we have persistent worries about perceived threats, things that you think may happen. These worries are usually out of proportion to the actual real threat and get in the way of you living your life.
What affects does it have?
Childhood anxiety may present as shyness, clinginess, crying, not wanting to go to school, nervousness, refusal to talk about what is bothering them and even anger. I realised that many of the children in my life were similar to me. Children worry daily about what others think of them. They worry about assessment and how well they are doing in comparison to another child.
What makes kids anxious?
The things that may cause anxiety in children are friendship, bullying, perceived pressure at school, parent separation, comparing themselves to others and perfectionism.
My experience with anxiety
I had always been someone that worried about what other people would think of me. I would wake up in the middle of the night and stress about some unknown outcome. It was affecting my life, my health and even my relationships. I knew I needed to turn it around.
I knew I had anxiety because the threat that was causing the fear was perceived or even unknown. This type of fear triggers the same response from the body as an actual threat such as a snake slithering across your lounge room floor. The body’s sympathetic nervous system creates a response called the fight or flight response. When this happens your heart rate and breathing rate increase, you may get knots in your stomach, you may want to run away or you may even become angry.
What can be done?
I learnt that in order to stop worrying about the past and future and what others thought of me was TO BE PRESENT IN THE HERE AND NOW.
I learnt that yoga, deep breathing and meditation are great ways to focus the mind and be present. There is a lot of evidence that supports these practices.
It made me wonder, what if I taught children the skills I had learnt, would it make a difference? I created an opportunity to test out my theory. My theory being that children would become calmer and less anxious if they practiced mindfulness, gratitude and journal writing.
So, I commenced Kalm Kids a well-being program for children where children learn these strategies in a group setting or one on one.