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.
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 to avoid these kind of things in the future.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a piece of paper and write down why you are anxious. Then put the paper away – you can deal with the problem tomorrow.
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.
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.
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).