Is anxiety your bogeyman?

Vincent Bélisle
Vincent Bélisle

Many new questions crossed my mind when I started my senior year of high school. The end of the school year would announce the beginning of my adult life and this new step would bring along many new decisions to make in regards to the rest of my academic career and life in general, which can generate a lot of anxiety. This is exactly what happened to me as these questions began taking up more space in my mind. I froze!

Anxiety manifests itself in many ways: palpitations, physical pain, fatigue, worry, etc. We can all experience anxiety when faced with unknown situations or in reaction to fears. It’s a biological brain reflex that tends to be more reactive in teens as they go through new experiences and slowly move away from their reassuring family environment. This reflex becomes problematic when it starts hindering daily activities. Anxiety can become so pervasive that it prevents us from succeeding in the various spheres of our lives (at school, at work, during leisure activities, in social relations, etc.). It’s at that moment that we must act to not let the bogeyman take over.

The first obvious question to ask yourself when confronted with anxiety is: why is anxiety part of my life? Two main factors can be used to explain anxiety disorders: heredity and environmental factors. Psychological distress associated with anxiety among youth has been on the rise for the past 15 years and is often caused by academic success or failure and by social relationships. This can however differ from one individual to another and it’s our personal duty to identify the causes of our own anxiety. In my case, I knew that the causes were related to time management (balancing leisure, school and work), my future and my role in society. So I put in place methods to reduce and better control my anxiety. Again, the means used to handle this reaction are personal, but I can share a few that have proven to be very effective for me!

There are various techniques that can be used to calm down and to remain calm, such as meditation, mindfulness, breathing patterns or sports. There are activities that generate feelings of well-being and satisfaction (in my case, music and photography). In short, try out as many techniques as possible and you will find some that work for you. It’s not always possible to do this alone, but don’t give up. Do not hesitate to ask for help if needed as anxiety can quickly take unbearable proportions.

The fight against anxiety is increasingly present in our society. It is spreading to schools, where staff members are in a good position to identify and help students with anxiety problems. “[Anxiety] is a priority in our management agreement”, explains Marthe Blondin, school director. “Students, parents and teachers are made aware of this issue which, if not treated at the earliest, will accompany the student throughout his schooling.” Indeed, the faster you act, the better the results. Above all, remember that even if it seems like there are many things in this world to worry about, there are always at least as many to make you smile!

Help and resources

Information and support resources

  • Revivre – The support association for people suffering from anxiety, depression or bipolar disorders
  • Phobies-Zéro (Helpline : 1 866 922-0002)
  • Tel-Jeunes (Helpline for 5 to 20 year olds : 1 800 263-2266)
  • The Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec

Care and services resources

  • Your family doctor.
  • Your Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSS) and Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre (CIUSSS)
  • The Ordre des psychologues du Québec.

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