What is anxiety?

Anxiety is what you feel when you’re scared and think that something bad might happen. Anxiety is a normal part of life—everyone feel anxious at times. Anxiety can also be helpful. It tells you when you might be in danger. It can also motivate you to work hard.

What does anxiety look like?

There are three parts to anxiety: thoughts, feelings and actions.

1. Thoughts—“Something bad is going to happen!”

Anxiety comes up when you think that something bad might happen. Imagine that you’ve been invited to a party. If you think that no one will talk to you and you’ll have a bad time, you might feel upset and wonder if you should even bother going. If you think that you’ll have fun, you might feel excited about going.

2. Feelings—Getting ready to fight, run away or freeze

Your body has a system to help get you out of danger. This is where the physical sensations of anxiety come in: your heart may start to beat faster, you may feel like you can’t breathe, you may start to sweat or feel shaky, or you may have an upset stomach.

Your body can’t always tell the difference between the threat of running into a busy street and the threat of failing a test, so you might notice this reaction even when you aren’t in physical danger. These feelings may not be pleasant, but they can’t hurt you.

3. Actions—Fighting, running away or freezing

These actions are your body’s way of getting you out of danger. It’s part of the same system that makes anxiety feel uncomfortable. Your body usually takes in three different ways:

Where can I learn more about anxiety?

Your local crisis line

A crisis line can help you when you are very upset. They can help with a lot of other problems, too. They can help you find services in your community, or just listen to what you have to say. Call 310-6789. Do not put 604, 778 or 250 before the number. It’s free, anonymous, confidential and available 24/7.

Kids Help Phone

Visit for information and support. You can post questions to counsellors online. You can also call 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor. It’s a free, anonymous, confidential and available 24/7.

Youth in BC

Visit to chat with a trained volunteer from the Crisis Centre. They’re online from noon until 1:00 am.


Visit to learn more about anxiety and find tools to help you deal with anxiety.

BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information

Visit for fact sheets and other useful information. You can learn more about anxiety and other problems, read stories and connect with others who are dealing with anxiety.

Mind Your Mind

Mind Your Mind is a community for younger people who are learning to take charge of their mental health. You can read stories and interviews, learn more about mental health, check out a toolbox of skills and find resources. You can find them at

This content was originally created by the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division. It is used under the terms of a Creative Commons License. More information can be found below.

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Wellness Check – Anxiety by Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License