Wellbeing, inclusion & diversity

Teacher resources & training


and how our brain works

Fear responses in the brain

Anxiety is a natural response to stressful events, which we physically see, hear, feel, smell, or even imagine...

what is anxiety

OK, we are the only creature on earth with the ability to wonder about our future. The path we are taking, worrying about ourselves and those around us. This can trigger a fight or flight response in different degrees…

What we can also call anxiety. This is when our body gets ready to fight off or flee from danger. A heightened state of stress when our heart rate and breathing rapidly and uncomfortably increase.

The fight or flight mechanism can be activated from just our thoughts or emotional history.

This is normal. Everyone gets stressed and feels anxious at times. It is a part of our makeup to help keep us…

…safe from danger. Nowadays we may not be overly worried about bears in the forest attacking us, but the modern world is full of constant triggers, especially for young people exposed to ever growing digital pressure while they go through immense developmental…

…changes in the way even their brain works. Everyone processes stress and change differently. Triggers can make us completely disabled by anxiety or unable to progress academically or socially. This is actually a form of exclusion.

Anxiety will likely not just disappear on its own, and students need to be given a safe and empathetic environment.

skills and tools against anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response, however unnatural the trigger, to preserve ourselves when threatened. Anxiety is the anticipation of future threats when the stressor has passed or is not yet even present.

Symptoms can occur very suddenly and are disabling both mentally and physically. It helps to understand how our brain actually works: how and why we are feeling the way we do.

Then the greater our ability actually is to recognise when a fear response is not real and has been created by our brain.

The fear of what might happen – this can be seen as a false alarm – when we know the alarm, setting us off into fight or flight mode, is false…

Then we’ve begun to take control. We can begin to make steps forward, reducing and eliminating this fear response.

Many things can influence our fear response. It is actually unique to us. We can experience things throughout our lives…

…that we might not directly actually remember.

This can make us more sensitive to certain stimuli and be burdened by a false alarm hindering our ability to remain calm, to think logically and be effective.

Splitting seemingly impossible tasks into smaller steps over time is crucial in helping to take control of this false alarm, so the threats are reduced and positive emotions felt.

In at the deep end is not going to help at all.

The bravest students are not those who have no fear. Not at all. The bravest of those who are afraid, but nevertheless try a little, even if it seems scary.