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All about ASL:

Everybody experiences anxiety at some point in their life, but what is it?

On this page we talk all about anxiety. We cover what it is and how it can affect your learning. We also share ways you can manage anxiety and how additional support for learning (ASL) can help you at school.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety can be thoughts or physical feelings that relate to being worried, nervous, or scared about something.

These are all common feelings and they are a normal part of life. But if you find that these feelings are interfering with your everyday life, you might have anxiety.

Anxiety plays an important part in our lives – in many circumstances a little bit of anxiety can be a good thing!

For example, if you have an important test coming up it can help sharpen your mind and motivate you to study.

Anxiety can also keep you safe by alerting you to potential dangers. If humans didn’t have a certain level of anxiety built in, we wouldn’t have survived long enough to get to where we are now!

But, anxiety becomes a problem when it makes you feel nervous or worried a lot of the time. If anxious feelings are interfering with your everyday life it can make difficult to do things you need, or want, to do.


Anxiety can affect how you think and feel. For example if you are experiencing anxiety you might:

  • Find it hard to relax
  • Feel like you are worrying all the time
  • Feel irritable
  • Feel nervous or ‘on edge’
  • Have a sense of doom or dread
  • Feel panicky
  • Feel self-conscious
  • Have low mood

…these are just some examples. Anxiety can affect your mind in lots of different ways.


Anxiety can have an impact on how you feel physically too. This diagram shows some of the ways that it can affect your body:

A diagram that shows how anxiety can affect the physical body. At the centre is the shape of a person. Around the person is words that describe how anxiety can affect you body. These include: headache, difficulty breathing, sweating, fast heart-rate, upset stomach, muscle pains/aches, chaking, feeling sick, tight chest, dry mouth.

…again these are just some examples. If you have anxiety you might experience symptoms that aren’t listed here.

Anxiety and learning

Anxiety can affect your learning in several ways.

If you are experiencing anxiety it can make it difficult to fully focus on your learning.

When you feel anxious, your body releases stress hormones. These can make it difficult to concentrate and focus on tasks. It can also be hard to pay attention in class, listen to your teacher, or remember important information.

Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms, like the ones described above. These can make it uncomfortable to sit still and learn.

The physical and mental effects of anxiety can make you feel tired and exhausted. This can make it hard to stay alert and engaged in class.

All of these things are reasons why it is so important to tell your school if you are experiencing anxiety.

Your school should be able to help you and put things in place to support your learning.

How can my school help?

One way to get support is through Additional Support for Learning (ASL) in school.

One of the most important things you can do is to talk to your teachers and school staff about how you are feeling.

They can work with you to identify the areas where you need extra help and come up with a plan to support you.

My Rights My Say logo

If you are 12-15 and having difficulty speaking to your school about support, an organisation called My Rights, My Say can help.

You can contact them by hitting the button below.

who else can help?

If you or someone you know has anxiety, it’s important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional as well. This is because they can help you understand your anxiety and provide you with additional resources and support.

There are also lots of organisations that have advice about anxiety:

YoungMinds is a website that also offers lots of advice for young people about anxiety. You can hit the button below to visit their guide to anxiety.

SAMH is the Scottish Association for Mental Health. They offer information and resources for children, young people, and families affected by anxiety.

They also have support groups and other events where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

An image with a transparent background and the Childline logo - the word 'Childline' in blue. Blue text below this reads 'Online, on the phone, anytime.

Childline provides online 1-to-1 counselling where you can talk to someone about how you feel.

You can also call Childline on 0800 1111. If you are deaf you can use SignVideo.

Young Scot’s Aye Feel campaign offers information about how to look after your emotional wellbeing and mental health.

what else can I do?

Get active. Exercise is a great way of burning off the excess energy that your body can generate when you feel anxious. You could go for a walk, run or a swim, or play your favourite sport. There are also lots of great yoga videos on YouTube that talk you through what to do. Exercise also releases happy hormones that help combat the stress hormones from anxiety!

Meditation. Taking some time out to practice meditation can really calm your mind. It is all about slowing things right down and being present in the moment. There are lots of great apps that walk you through how to meditate.

Get creative. Some people find that creative activities like crafts, making or listening to music, drawing and painting relax them. You may find that these activities can help you express how you feel.

Writing. If you feel anxious it’s easy to feel like your thoughts are all muddled up. You might also ‘close up’ and feel like it’s hard to talk about how you feel. So, sometimes it’s easier to write. You could try writing about how you feel. A nice idea it to follow this up by writing 5 things that you love about yourself 🤍.

Do something you enjoy. It could be reading a book, gaming, binging on Netflix or petting your dog! Take some time for you. It’s important to switch off.

Remember, if you have anxiety it is important to be patient and kind to yourself. Everybody feels anxious from time to time. Take things at your own pace and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.

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