Stress, Anxiety and Fear

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Stress, fear and anxiety can often feel similar. You might feel overwhelmed, like you can't cope or like you want to run away. Here we share some tips on how to deal with these emotions.

How Does It Feel?


  • There could be lots of thoughts running through your mind at once
  • Or you might be laser-focused on one thing
  • Perhaps you are overthinking - thinking about something over and over again
  • It might be hard to relax and fall asleep


  • Your muscles feel tense
  • You are shaking or trembling
  • You feel dizzy
  • You have trouble breathing
  • You have sweaty hands
  • Your heart is beating fast

Why Do I Feel Like This?

This intense reaction is what helped our ancestors to stay away from harm. Imagine a Stone Age man walking through a dark forest and stumbling upon a deadly lion. In that moment, he needed to either fight the lion or run away as quickly as possible - his survival depended on it. Fortunately for him, his body immediately responded to the threat by releasing hormones that gave him more energy to fuel his response to danger (increased heartbeat and breathing), improved his ability to see threats in the dark (dilated pupils), tensed & primed his muscles for action (trembling/shaking), and diverted blood to his muscles and brain to aid in a fast escape (pale or flushed skin). This is also called a “fight-or-flight” response.

Our body still reacts like this in many situations – even if sometimes there is no immediate danger. For example, you might feel stressed because of an upcoming exam, you could be worried that you could get in trouble for staying out late, or you might be scared because of something you saw online. It’s also possible to feel like this even if there doesn’t seem to be a real reason for it.

Things that Could Stress You Out Online

Inappropriate Websites, Pictures or Videos

You might play a game or click a link and suddenly something pops up that makes you feel really uncomfortable. You might be scared that your parents will notice it or that your device might get a virus. You might also feel confused about what you have seen.

It’s best to talk to your parents about what you have seen. They might be able to explain it to you and help you avoid these kind of things in the future. If you feel embarrassed talking to your parents, you can reach out to Kids Helpline to talk to someone about your experience.


Some people say nasty things to others on the internet. It might be directed at you or at someone else. It can make you feel scared or uncomfortable.

Things That Strangers Could Say To You

There are some people on the internet who might make you feel uncomfortable or say things that are threatening. It’s best to talk to a trusted adult if this happens.

FOMO & Pressure To Get Likes

Do you get nervous when you are away from your phone for too long? Do you keep on refreshing your Facebook or Instagram all the time? This might be FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out.

Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and have fun. But sometimes it can take over our lives. It can make you think that you are missing out on important things that your friends are posting/messaging about if you aren't online 24/7. There can be also a lot of pressure to get likes and comments. You might feel like the number of follows you have shows how popular you are.

If you feel like this, there are some things that can help:

  • Turn off your social media notifications
  • Talk to your friends in real life
  • Spend time with your family
  • Don’t post before bedtime
  • Unfollow stressful people
  • Take a break from social media

What Can I Do?

Find Out Why

Sometimes it’s very clear why you feel nervous or stressed. Sometimes it’s not. It might be one big thing like an argument with a friend, or many little things coming together. It can help to write down what you are worried about. You might even see that the problem isn’t that big, but your body is overreacting.

Try To Tackle It

Once you know why you feel stressed or scared it’s important to do something about that feeling. The solution really depends on the situation. It can also help to talk to someone about your problem. Sometimes just talking can help you feel more relaxed and figure out a possible solution. If you don’t know what to do, it’s best to ask a trusted adult for help or to reach out to Kids Helpline. If you are in immediate danger call 000.

There are some problems that you can manage yourself. It’s best not to ignore or push these kind of worries away. For example, let's say you have a big essay due later this week, and are feeling anxious about all of the work that you have to do to complete it. To make the task more manageable, try to break it down into smaller pieces.


  • Prepare your workspace
  • Familiarize yourself with the task
  • Read chapter one
  • Take notes
  • Read second chapter
  • Take notes
  • Draft essay
  • Ask someone for feedback on your draft
  • Make edits based on feedback and write up final essay
  • Proofread essay

1. Sometimes it’s OK to just let it go

Some problems can’t be fixed or you just have to wait it out. You can try to do something to distract yourself or to relax your body and mind.

  • Get creative: express your feelings through art or music. You can also do something creative just to focus your thoughts on something other than your problem.
  • Exercise: do something physical that you enjoy – running, swimming, dancing, yoga, skateboarding, etc. As long as it's fun and involves moving your body, give it a shot! Physical activity is an excellent way to relax your body.
  • Repeat a positive phrase: say a phrase like “I got this“ or “If I fall, I will get back up again”.

2. Write It Down

Take a piece of paper and write down why you are anxious. Then put the paper away – you can deal with the problem tomorrow.

3. Picture A Relaxing Scene

It can help to create a picture of a relaxing place in your head. For example, you could imagine that you are sitting on a sunny beach. You can hear the soothing waves crashing in front of you, feel the sand under your feet, and smell the salty air in the breeze.

4. Put the Phone to Bed

Avoid using your phone one hour before going to bed. The bright light of your screen can make you feel more awake, and make it harder to fall asleep.

5. Get Up For A Bit

If you really can’t fall asleep, then it might be good to get up for a short time. Trying too hard to fall asleep can make you more stressed. Do something quiet instead, like reading a book or listening to relaxing music (remember to try to avoid using your phone). Eventually, you will get sleepy and begin to relax. Keep the lights low and try to go back to bed after 30 min (or earlier when you get sleepy).


I Feel Threatened

Is someone that you have met online asking you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable? This might be Cyberbullying or Online Grooming – our articles on these topics explore what these are and steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

For free and anonymous advice, always feel free to reach out to Kids Helpline to talk to someone about your experience.

Are you in immediate danger? - Call 000.