What is Anxiety?

Google says:

1. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
“he felt a surge of anxiety.”

2. Strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen.
“the housekeeper’s eager anxiety to please.”

I say:

Anxiety is a negative feeling that can grow into avoidance of places, people and things that trigger that feeling. Essentially, anxiety is only seen as a problem when the person begins to change their behaviour to prevent the associated negative emotions.

The problem with this avoidance is that those negative feelings don’t disappear, in fact, the can just end up escalating and bubbling over. Those negative thoughts can grow in importance inside your head, becoming even more powerful over time.

A widespread misconception from people who don’t suffer from anxiety problems is that anxiety is the same as fear, it’s not. With fear or phobia, you can work with immersion therapy (a type of “feel the fear and do it anyway”treatment). If you take the same perspective with anxiety, there is a real risk of making it even worse. Anxiety can’t be pushed through, even if someone manages to force themselves to do that, it won’t magically fix the thoughts inside their head that lead to those feelings in the first place.

When it comes to children and their anxiety, it can be challenging whether you experience it or not, because it can present itself differently in children (and even in adults). I personally suffer from general anxiety, that often presents itself in really odd situations (flying a kite panic attack anyone?) but my daughter has anxiety around her high expectations of herself and has no issues with daily physical activities.

Parents who have never felt it may begin getting frustrated and try to treat it like fear, or they may reinforce the avoidance by enabling their children to avoid their feelings or by coddling them. I definitely don’t want to demonise these techniques, while they’re not helpful and can even be harmful in the long run, they don’t come from a malicious place. When you don’t have the tools or understanding, even loving techniques can backfire.

Worrywart is going to be an app for parents who can’t afford to take their kids to a Child Psychologist, or perhaps even a Counsellor. It won’t be a replacement for those services, but there are ways to teach your kids and yourselves, tools to help you both cope with this sometimes debilitating illness. Worrywart will use scientifically supported methods for treating anxiety, mainly concentrating on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT, in a nutshell, is a therapy that teaches you how to rewire your ways of thinking (thoughts) so that you can create healthier thought patterns.

Some people like to dismiss anxiety as a new ‘buzzword’ that YouTubers like to throw around for attention. Please believe that true anxiety isn’t something anyone would want or create – it can severely damage peoples lives when left untreated. We hope that the earlier therapy can be sought, the less likely children will grow into adults with anxiety disorders.

I personally don’t believe that people who are born with a predisposition for feeling anxious will ever be without it, I think that the general anxiety bar is just higher for us. But I don’t want adults or children to believe that they can’t improve, or aren’t capable of doing anything that they wish to do with their lives. An excellent source of strength can be found when learning how to look after ourselves.

The strongest people aren’t the ones who don’t have problems, they’re the ones who ask for help and thrive despite them. Kids are capable of learning how to help themselves, they just need the tools to do so, and Worrywart will be a way to access them.