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Anxiety Is Real

I struggle with anxiety in high school. Do you?

By Ashley Crowell

Feb. 29, 2024

“Toughen up buttercup!” “Boys don’t cry!” 

Has anyone ever said something like this to you when you were feeling anxious? Often anxiety gets dismissed as unimportant or weak, when actually, anxiety is a real issue for many people. 


Most people feel slight anxiety every now and then, which is normal. Some people feel anxiety so acutely that they develop something called “panic attacks,” which are sudden and overwhelming feelings of anxiety. 


Anxiety can be debilitating and prevent people from participating in everyday activities to avoid triggering these feelings. When this happens, it’s time to ask for help.


Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concerns in the United States. More than 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder, according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness. 


To many, these people are just statistics, far off numbers that don’t really affect their lives. But anxiety can affect all of us when we least expect it. 


It happened to me. I had just started a new year in high school, and everything seemed to be too much, but I was handling it. Then suddenly one morning, two things happened in quick succession that crumbled my careful facade of composure. I was so shaken, I couldn’t keep going. 


I sat in my car and breathed deeply for a few minutes, praying for peace. After calling to mind several of my favorite Bible verses, I was able to work through what I was feeling and return to the regular routine. Yet I was affected for the rest of the day. This is just a very small example of how debilitating anxiety can be. 


Anxiety can come in many forms, with a variety of symptoms ranging from emotional to physical. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, symptoms can include:


  • Feelings of apprehension or dread.

  • Feeling tense or jumpy.

  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath.

  • Sweating, tremors and twitches.

  • Headaches, fatigue and insomnia.

Susan B. Marsh, a guidance counselor at Grimsley, notes that for many teens, anxiety can be caused by academic pressure to be successful, which can be from parents, or even from themselves. Yet not all anxiety has an obvious cause. 

“Sometimes people are anxious and they don’t know why they’re anxious,” Ms. Marsh said.

How do teens cope with all of the anxiety in their daily lives? Along with spiritual practices like prayer, here are some additional coping strategies from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:  

  • Take a break.

  • Eat balanced meals.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Breathe.

  • Accept that you are not perfect.

  • Set small, achievable goals instead of broad expectations.

Yet sometimes these strategies are not enough. Sometimes you may reach a point where you need more—where anxiety continues to affect how you live your life on a daily basis. 

If you are struggling with severe anxiety, there are people at Grimsley, like the guidance counselors, who will walk beside you through this struggle, and resources that are available to help. Please remember this: you are not alone. 

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