Feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed are not uncommon and should not go unaddressed. Many of us experience anxiety and stress, especially during times of uncertainty and change – but how can we manage these feelings and develop a more healthy mindset?
As a Devon charity and trust, here at Calvert Exmoor, we understand how important it is to address mental health struggles and support each other. There are several great apps and free resources to help you cope with anxiety and learn some skills to rest and relax the mind even when that feels like an uphill battle.
If you are experiencing more severe issues, please consult a mental healthcare professional.
The Best Free Apps For Anxiety
- Catch It
- Dare: Panic & Anxiety Relief
- Insight Timer
- Stress & Anxiety Companion
- Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
- What’s Up?
- Woebot App
1. Catch It
Developed as a joint project from the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester, this app is a simple mood diary, allowing you to record your changing moods and feelings.
By tracking how your feelings shift, the app aims to teach you how to manage anxiety and stress, illustrating new ways to view problems and develop positive ways of coping.
Through questions and guidance, Catch It supports you as you make sense of your moods – users have described how useful this can often be when trying to feel calmer.
2. Dare: Panic & Anxiety Relief
A popular app with high ratings from users, Dare, based on the best-selling book, provides you with a toolkit based around many years of experience to help your brain become less anxious.
The evidence based training programme provides help for people experiencing anxiety, panic attacks and more. You can track your daily progress with the mood journal, writing down all of your thoughts and feelings. With the ‘SOS’ feature, users can also get help fast when needed and on-the-go.
3. Insight Timer
This free app hosts a library of guided meditations designed to help users relax and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
The guided sessions are led by 11,000 different world-renowned mindfulness experts and psychologists. You will also have access to thousands of music tracks and ambient soundscapes to help you fall asleep or quiet your mind.
There are more than 1,500 meditations tailored specifically to dealing with anxiety.
4. Stress & Anxiety Companion
This one is great for individuals with mild to moderate anxiety and stress levels.
With techniques built around cognitive behavioural therapy, the app uses an array of breathing exercises, mindfulness games and relaxing music designed to help you set positive goals, create healthy routines and manage problematic thinking.
The Stress & Anxiety Companion is all about helping you identify why you’re feeling anxious or stressed and learning how to manage these negative thoughts.
Whether you are struggling with anxiety, stress, insomnia or you are just trying to relax and meditate, iBreathe is a simple yet great app for this.
It helps guide you through deep breathing exercises. Copying a relaxed breathing pattern calms the nervous system that controls the body’s involuntary functions, which helps to reduce anxiety and stress.
6. Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
This engaging and practical app is a helpful resource for those that want to confront their anxiety and really learn how to manage it.
SAM helps you understand the causes behind your anxiety and gives you resources to create your own anxiety toolkit along with techniques to monitor changing moods, thoughts and behaviours.
Through the various available self-help exercises and reflections, you can learn how to develop healthy thought patterns and actions.
You can also use the social cloud feature which allows you to give and receive support from other users.
7. What’s Up?
This free app is designed to help users cope with depression, anxiety, stress and more.
With a range of cognitive behaviour therapy and acceptance commitment therapy methods, the app provides actionable advice on overcoming negative thinking patterns, helps you put your feelings into perspective and gives tips on staying grounded during times of stress.
You can also use the diary to record thoughts and learn how to keep calm with effective breathing exercises.
As seen in Women’s health, Time magazine, Healthline and more! Rootd, is an award winning, scientifically validated, female led app to help people who suffer with anxiety, panic attacks, and racing thoughts.
With the ‘Rootr’ feature, it allows users to press the big red button when in need of help whether that is for reassurance or to explore the discomfort going on in someone’s head.
9. Woebot App
The Woebot app offers support for people struggling with anxiety and/or depression, through daily check-ins and lessons, helping users to change their thought patterns.
Again, it should be noted that these apps should not be considered a replacement for professional help – but they can be great aids for boosting general mental health and wellbeing!
Taking to nature and enjoying activities outdoors can also work wonders for mental wellbeing and self-confidence. To find out more about how adventure breaks could help improve mental health, take a look at our blog below.
For more information about the Calvert Experience and the disability activities we offer, please get in touch.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’re firm believers in the restorative powers of the natural world for those both young and old!
There are numerous benefits of spending time in nature, which we’re keen to embrace when offering our activity holidays for disabled people and their families.
Just being outdoors and enjoying activities in nature can improve general health and wellbeing, helping to ease feelings of anxiety. Find out just how beneficial outdoor activities can be below.
The Mental Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
The positive effects of spending time in nature have now been well documented. Being in green spaces can help boost your mood, reduce feelings of stress, make you feel more relaxed and even improve confidence.
Bringing nature into child’s life as well as your own can be greatly beneficial, whether they experience anxiety or not – doing things like gardening, going for walks or taking part in outdoor adventure activities can improve general wellbeing and open the door to new experiences!
10 Ways Outdoor Activities Help a Child with Anxiety
So how do these benefits of spending time outdoors take shape for children with anxiety?
1. Improved Sense of Wellbeing
Accessible outdoor adventure activities usually take place in quiet places, surrounded by the natural world and away from the hustle of everyday life. Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’re located in the countryside next to a national park and love the tranquillity that it can bring!
Just being in an environment surrounded by nature like this can improve wellbeing and make children more relaxed, reducing anxiety in general. Fresh air, trees and serene views can put the mind at ease, even at a young age.
2. Encouraging Acceptance of New Experiences
Structured outdoor activities can encourage an openness to new experiences. Doing new activities helps children learn that they can do things they didn’t think possible, which reduces fears, worries and anxieties.
Having support and encouragement from those around them can also improve their experience, help them overcome phobias, boost social confidence and build positive memories.
3. A New Way of Thinking
By participating in new experiences, children can develop a new way of thinking.
For example, a child abseiling for the first time has probably never thought about how to abseil before. In the build-up, they may be nervous and worried about falling. Yet, with the help of activity instructors and those around them, the child will learn about the equipment, how the ropes work, and will take on important information.
This makes them focus on how to abseil rather than worrying about whether they can or not, reducing anxiety.
4. Increased Confidence & Independence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement during outdoor activities, which improves confidence and self-belief.
Completing an activity teaches a child that they are good enough to do it, which can inspire them to tackle other challenges with new enthusiasm. Feelings of self-doubt are overcome and replaced with perseverance – improving confidence and reducing anxiety levels.
5. Different Stimulation
Doing outdoor activities provides different and new stimuli. By embracing these differences, children learn to confront unfamiliar places more confidently. Seeing, smelling, hearing and doing new things becomes less overwhelming, and the idea of somewhere ‘new’ becomes less daunting.
6. Connecting with Others
A sense of belonging and community can form between children when in an unfamiliar environment. The process of doing new activities together connects children, especially when several of the group are anxious.
The shared feelings of uncertainty are often what bonds children who have just met, and they can quickly form a team or friendship.
7. Acquiring New Skills
By doing inclusive outdoor activities, children can learn skills while improving general coordination and motor skills. In the long run, this improves self-confidence and allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Feelings of anxiety can be reduced as they build confidence and experience different ways to learn and succeed.
8. Reduced Stress
It is well documented that stress and fatigue, caused by any number of things, can contribute to anxiety. A stressed child could struggle to deal with their feelings, increasing anxiety.
Outdoor activities help overcome phobias such as heights, encourage socialising and offer positive life experiences, reducing stress and lowering anxiety levels.
9. Feelings of Responsibility & Control
Children can have anxiety because of what they are going through at a particular moment in time. Giving them the responsibility and control over the situation helps reduce fears.
During outdoor activity sessions, the children always feel in control of their own actions. A child may be encouraged to take part, but it is ultimately their decision if they do or not. Subconsciously this can reduce anxiety as they always feel in control and are able to make their own decisions.
10. Improved General Mental Health
Feelings of anxiety impact a child’s general mental health, and prolonged anxiety can greatly affect them. All of the above benefits combine to help encourage positive feelings and healthier habits.
Read more about how an adventure break can improve mental health for people of all ages and abilities.
What is Anxiety?
Everyone may feel anxious at some point, with feelings of worry, stress and uncertainty being common manifestations of the emotion. It’s perfectly normal to feel these things at various points in your life but can be cause for concern when these feelings are more severe.
Anxiety starts to become more serious when negative feelings last for longer periods of time, and they begin having a detrimental effect on your everyday life. For example, people with anxiety may avoid situations they worry about. This is when normal feelings of anxiety turn into varying degrees of anxiety-based disorders.
How you deal with anxiety largely influences your mental health and general wellbeing. While facing anxiety can be challenging, there are numerous ways to help reduce negative feelings and give you the necessary tools you need to cope, as shown with the benefits of outdoor activities above.
Why Would a Child Have Anxiety?
Anyone of any age can experience anxiety, whether to a healthy degree or to the point of developing an anxiety disorder.
There are various reasons your child might start feeling anxious. Some common causes of anxiety in children include:
- Separation – younger children often experience separation anxiety from parents or other loved ones and feel panicked or scared when away from them.
- Phobias – irrational fears of things like bugs or the dark.
- Social settings – feeling nervous, embarrassed or shy around others, especially new people.
- Life experiences – reflecting on negative feelings or bad experiences.
- Life changes – changes to the everyday routine, new settings, unfamiliar situations, moving to a new house or school or the loss of a close relative or friends can all cause anxiety.
What are the Signs of Anxiety in Children?
Every child will display anxiety differently, but some common signs might include:
- Becoming irritable
- Having difficulty sleeping or having bad dreams
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Losing appetite or not eating properly
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Asking lots of questions or needing reassurance
- Feeling tense and fidgety
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
- Lack of confidence to do everyday things
- Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed, such as seeing friends, going out or going to school
If you think your child might be dealing with a more severe anxiety disorder, consult a healthcare professional.
How Can Disability Contribute to Anxiety?
Depending on the disability or condition, a child might have additional difficulties in social settings and may face further struggles with change.
It’s also likely that their life experiences are unique to them and different to those without disabilities; they may feel that no one else understands what they have gone through and that they can’t do what others can.
At Calvert Exmoor, we believe it’s what you can do that counts and ensures that everyone can enjoy the many benefits of participating in accessible adventure activities.
At Calvert Exmoor, we often meet anxious children who do not think they will enjoy their stay or are worried about doing certain outdoor activities. Once they begin their adventure, they have a wonderful time and love every activity, conquering their fears and leaving with a positive mindset.
If nothing else, children spending time with family or friends in a safe environment helps them relax and enjoy the experience, meaning they can start to understand anxiety and develop skills to get past their worries in other settings.
If you think your child would enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities we have to offer, please do get in touch to learn more or book an accessible adventure break today!
As an accessible centre that provides activity holidays for people with disabilities, we offer exciting adventure activities that help push individuals out of their comfort zone. We’ve seen first-hand how breaks away like this can boost a person’s confidence and self-esteem, no matter who they are or their circumstances.
Showing that everyone matters and should be able to experience all kinds of things is at the heart of what we do here at Calvert Exmoor. Whoever you are and whatever your ability, we believe it’s what you CAN do that counts.
We work hard to provide an environment of support and know how important it can be to reach out to others when you are struggling.
Checking in With Your Mental Health & Seeking Help
Over the past years, there has been a necessary and welcome surge in mental health support and awareness, making understanding your own mental health and recognising the signs you may need to seek help more accessible.
For many who struggle with mental health challenges, reaching out to seek others’ help is a turning point. Whether this means checking in with a family member, friend, medical professional or support line, this step is often one of the first steps to help you get to a better place.
However, knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to take those initial steps. If you are struggling yourself or want to support someone you love, there are numerous things you can embrace to make reaching out to others easier, helping to improve wellbeing and happiness.
The Benefits of Having a Reliable Social Support Network
Sometimes being on your own for a while is necessary as a bit of time to yourself can help you work through problems or uncertainties.
However, too much time on your own can become unhealthy, especially over prolonged periods. Humans are social beings, so it is important to have social networks we can trust and turn to when things become difficult.
A sympathetic ear or the presence of someone we can trust can help prevent, or at least ease, feelings of isolation, alienation and rumination.
Knowing you have a trustworthy network of people to turn to can:
- Improve your ability to deal with stress and anxious feelings
- Boost your self-esteem and social skills
- Improve overall health and wellbeing
Not Everyone Finds Talking Easy
For many, the idea of being honest about their feelings or asking for support makes them feel vulnerable, which dissuades them from confronting their difficulties.
While it can feel overwhelming to talk about your problems, it’s important to remember that those who you care about want to listen so they can help support you.
If you talk to someone about your feelings and they haven’t quite reacted the way you thought, this is also okay. We all have different life experiences, and just because a conversation hasn’t gone as you may have hoped doesn’t mean that someone else might not understand.
The person you’ve opened up to may feel unequipped to support you because of their own issues; this does not mean there aren’t other people you can turn to who will be able to help.
If you feel like you don’t have friendships you can rely on, remember it is never too late to open yourself to new experiences, find friends and join new social networks. As life and our circumstances change, so too can our support networks.
Seeking out a local group that celebrates one of your interests or even going on an adventure holiday that can improve mental health can expose you to new people and give you the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
Bonding with like-minded people can also put you in touch with others who have shared similar experiences and can offer advice on how they would deal with a situation.
How to Reach Out to Someone Who is Struggling
If you know that a loved one isn’t quite themselves, sometimes giving them the space to reach out is required.
However, if your loved one hasn’t connected with you in some time, it may be time for you to open the conversation by letting them know you are around to listen without pushing the issue too much.
By opening the door to communication, you allow them to move at their own pace, ensuring they don’t feel ambushed or shamed.
Creating a Safe Space
If you want to offer support, creating a safe space where your loved one feels like they can explain their thoughts, feelings and worries is essential.
It is not your place to judge, only to show you care about their struggles and will do what you can to help, whether this means helping them seek professional support or just being a friendly face to chat to at the end of a hard day.
It’s Not All About Talking
As much as talking about our problems can offer relief, building healthy, supportive relationships relies on more than just having the tough conversations. Simply spending time with someone and taking part in activities together can be extremely beneficial.
This shows you are there for the good times and hard times, proving you to be a reliable presence in someone’s life and a friend they can lean on.
One of our goals at Calvert Exmoor is to bring people from all walks of life together to enjoy a range of fantastic accessible adventure activities in Devon. If this sounds like something you or a loved one would enjoy, get in touch today to find out more about the accessible holidays we offer.
An adventure activity break is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and challenge yourself with attainable goals while surrounded by a supportive and encouraging environment.
If you are apprehensive about new experiences, booking your adventure holiday can feel like the first big step conquered. However, once you arrive at your adventure break, and you are about to try something new, anxiety can find a way to creep up on you once again.
For some, you may feel excited up until the point you are about to do the activity and then suddenly feel consumed by a feeling of nervousness that you haven’t experienced before or weren’t expecting.
How can you manage this sudden feeling, and what should you do if you are about to attempt your activity?
Here at Calvert Trust, we encourage people of all age groups and abilities to strive for their dreams during our accessible Devon activity breaks. We have plenty of experience with coaching guests through feelings of anxiety and want to share our top tips if you get caught out at the last minute!
For more information about anxiety and the signs, take a look at our blog below:
Accept Your Feelings
The first step is to accept the feeling. It may sound relatively simple, but acknowledging the unsettling feeling is constructive to help you manage it. It is important to remember that your feelings are entirely valid, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of them.
When you feel secure enough to continue the activity, it will feel like an even more significant achievement for you to be proud of.
Let Someone Know How You Feel
Next, tell someone you trust how you are genuinely feeling. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, and being honest about your feelings can help you accept them. You might want to tell a family member enjoying your activity break with you, a friend or an activity instructor.
All of our activity instructors are here to support you; they’ll want to know how you feel so they know the best ways to help you during your stay.
Visualise a Positive Experience
If you can, take some time to visualise what you want to do. This will help you build a positive picture in your brain and encourage you to try the activity you may feel apprehensive about.
Try Breathing Exercises
If you feel incredibly overwhelmed, the NHS website recommends trying breathing exercises when you feel onset anxiety.
This will change your focus from the activity at hand and also help you to regulate your breathing. For more advice on breathing exercises to try, take a look at the NHS advice on their website.
Remind Yourself of the Importance of Being Active
A fundamental way to combat anxiety, in general, is to do physical activity. When you don’t feel like doing the activity at hand, this might not feel easy but trying to remind yourself that it will help lift your feelings can help motivate you to give the activity a go.
If your child is attending an activity break and needs extra encouragement before the trip, our advice on how to get your child excited for a residential trip may help!
We ensure each of our guests has a wonderful time during our activity breaks. We also encourage everyone to conquer their fears with the support of our friendly and qualified activity instructors.
If you are interested in finding out more about the adventure breaks we provide, why not contact us today? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to speak to one of our team by calling 01598 763221 or emailing email@example.com
It is not unusual to feel anxious when you are in an unfamiliar setting and situation. It is an entirely acceptable feeling, no matter what your age or who you are.
It is important to remember, if you do feel these emotions, they do not have to remain with you throughout your adventure break. There are small but helpful things you can do to improve how you perceive your new situation.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing accessible breaks for everyone to enjoy, from school residentials to holidays for people with disabilities. We want to make sure that every one of our guests has the best experience possible, so have created this blog to help you.
Who Can Benefit From This Advice?
We have created these tips for everyone to try if they are ever feeling anxious when they are away from home.
If you are an independent adult on an accessible adventure break, we hope you can refer to this blog to help you if you are feeling unsure.
If you are a carer or a parent with a child of any age, who is about to embark on a residential adventure, we hope we can help you with ideas on how to alleviate their feelings of anxiety.
Accept How You Are Feeling
It is ok to feel a bit on edge when you are away from home, even if you are only down the road! It is a feeling that can primarily occur when your usual daily routines have had to change for the duration of your trip.
Begin by identifying the feelings of unease and accepting them for what they are. It is important to remind yourself that it is completely fine and natural to feel this way when you are away from what you know.
Talk To Someone About How you Feel
Once you have accepted how you currently feel, let someone else know. Whether they are:
• A staff member, such as an instructor
• A family member
• A friend you have gone on the adventure break with
• A teacher
• A carer
You never know, they may feel similar and appreciate that you have confided in them! You can talk about what you love back at home and how they might also like it if they ever come to visit.
It may break the ice for those you do not know so well too.
Remember You Can Call Home
Living in the 21st-century means you are never too far from home! With mobile phones, social media, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, staying in touch couldn’t be easier.
If you would like to ring home and talk about things, go for it! There is no shame in letting your nearest and dearest know about how you are doing. They will be able to see the situation from the outside and remind you of all the amazing reasons you wanted to go in the first place.
Talking to your family members will reassure your anxiety that everything back home is ok and you aren’t missing out on anything. Their jolly voices will let you know they are happy and healthy.
Put Things Into Perspective
Once you have accepted and communicated how you feel, it is time to try and gently shift your perspective on the experience.
You feel anxious, and that is completely acceptable. And it is also ok to feel worried but still want to make the most of your opportunity away from home.
Think about the initial reasons why you wanted to come. What activities did you want to try? Were they as you expected them to be? How did it feel to do them? What highlights will you share when you get back home?
Record Your Feelings
Noting down your feelings can be as effective as talking for some people.
You could think about:
• What were the highlights of the day? You could break down the day into morning, afternoon and evening and reflect what you enjoyed the most at each point.
• What challenges did you face today?
• How could the situation be different next time?
Good or bad, it is all acceptable to note down!
Perhaps you will revisit your thoughts in your journal, or perhaps you won’t, it doesn’t matter! Similar to talking, it is just good to get the feelings out in the open so you can move forward and take each day as it comes.
Try to Be Social, Even If You May Not Feel Like It
When you feel uncomfortable, the idea of talking with new people can feel incredibly daunting.
If you are on a trip without company from home, or with people you do not know so well, it is essential to ensure you do not isolate yourself, especially if you are not in the most positive of mind frames.
By socialising, it will feel like a massive achievement in itself and may instantly lift your mood. Many adventure breaks have social areas for guests to interact with. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have numerous social areas for our guests to relax in including, The Barn bar, the games room and our stunning courtyard for warmer weather.
You never know who you are going to meet, so try your best to keep an open mind even though this is easier said than done. You may make a friend for life, all starting with a simple hello!
Keep Social Goals Attainable
If you are a shy person, keep your social goals small and achievable, so you don’t feel too overwhelmed. Try meeting one person, to begin with. Listening is an admirable trait in people, so try this at first and see where you go!
Get Out Your Comfort Zone
When you feel like you miss home, try and reflect back to why you wanted to go on your adventure break and the activities you envisioned yourself trying. Speak to your instructor about your feelings, so they can encourage and reassure you to try all the experiences you thought you would try before you felt anxious on the trip.
Bring Familiar Things With You
Bringing something special to you from home is a popular thing to do.
It could be a much-loved photo, a cuddly toy, some sweet treats or a cushion. Anything that brings you comfort, don’t be afraid to take it with you.
For parent or carers whose children are going on a residential trip away, why not ask your child what they would like to take with them? Take a look at our blog on how to get your child excited for a residential trip for some other handy hints and tips!
Have you ever felt homesick when you were on an adventure break? What helped you? We would love to know! Why not let us know on our social media channels?