Generalized anxiety disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, Panic disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Phobia. These are all names of anxiety disorders which affect 275 million of the global population. Anxiety is the natural response to the overload of stress. But how does one manage the stresses in their life to avoid debilitating anxiety?

Anxiety is very prevalent in the teenage years and affects nearly anyone at some point. Anxiety can be caused by big events such as the death of a family member, and smaller life events such as too much homework. One can often hear their peers saying how nervous they are for the upcoming test that they did not study a minute for and are feeling anxious for. Imagine sitting in class, maybe not understanding, maybe not paying attention but trying to. A feeling of intense nervousness takes over. A hopeless feeling of dread takes over and seems as though it is uncontrollable; it is a struggle to sustain a stable breathe. Sometimes this feeling can last hours or even days. Once the cycle of anxious thoughts starts, logical thoughts to calm down seem very far away.

According to the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) article in the HelpGuide, Generalized Anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety; it is characterized as ‘not being able to turn your thoughts off Hannelie Jogha, a Grade 11 Riverside Secondary School student, expressed her frustrations with the feelings of anxiety. “There are some good days and some bad days, most of them are bad, and when they are bad, it feels like I’ll never get through it.”

Another form of anxiety, which is very common, is obsessive-compulsive disorder, or often referred to as OCD; most people know someone who has the condition but will never admit to it. OCD can cause one to repeat certain behaviours obsessively, such as cleaning the house, washing their hands, or checking several times if the door is locked. It’s an all-consuming disorder that can control the person’s life.

For some, their lives revolve around their anxiety, and they stay in their comfortable cage and are careful about coming out of the confinement, which is their powerful mind. Some get through it day by day, and some have learned to manage it and are not ashamed of giving into their OCD and checking if a door is locked multiple times.

It may be a ‘slow process’ according to Jogha, but managing anxiety is a crucial step in feeling better and getting through it. There are many websites such as MyCompass and apps such as ‘Calm’ that help to deal with anxiety and other mental illnesses. Other ways to manage might be talking to a peer and distracting yourself through activities such as exercise or a hobby. Everyone is different. What may work for one may not work for another. Get out of the comfort-ability of living behind your anxiety and break that barrier. “The thing that worked best for me was just the mindset that I was going to get through it, and [I] stayed positive,” said Jogha. Anxiety can be a burden if one lets it. If anxiety is a struggle and it’s proving to be too difficult to handle, don’t give up at the first hurdle you encounter. Reaching out is the best option, whether that be to a family member or a professional, there is always someone willing to help.

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