Everyone can feel anxious at times; it’s our body’s way of keeping us alert. It only really becomes an issue when worry or fear start to interfere with day-to-day life. This lesson examines how an anxiety disorder differs from ‘normal’ anxiety, and supports students in managing anxiety.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies



Learning intention

Students develop an understanding of the difference between ‘normal’ anxiety and an anxiety disorder, and learn ways to manage and cope with associated behaviours and feelings.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe the signs and symptoms of anxiety

  • explain some of the risk factors of anxiety

  • discuss the different anxiety disorders and treatment options

  • identify practical strategies for managing anxiety.

Materials needed

  • Access to the video ‘About feeling stressed, anxious, worried or down’

  • Butcher’s paper

  • Paper and pens

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Plan, rehearse and evaluate strategies for managing situations where their own or others’ health, safety or wellbeing may be at risk (AC9HP10P08)

  • Evaluate emotional responses in different situations to refine strategies for managing emotions (AC9HP10P06)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

  • Critical and Creative Thinking:

    • Reflecting

    • Inquiring

  • Digital Literacy:

    • Investigating

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Assesses their own and others’ capacity to reflect on and respond positively to challenges (PD5-1)

  • Assesses and applies self-management skills to effectively manage complex situations (PD5-9)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses, and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses to health and wellbeing (VCHPEP147)

  • Plan, rehearse and evaluate options (including CPR and first aid) for managing situations where their own or others’ health, safety and wellbeing may be at risk (VCHPEP144)

  • Evaluate health information from a range of sources and apply to health decisions and situations (VCHPEP148)

Show details

Activity 1

Investigation: What is anxiety?

20 minutes

To feel more confident when teaching this lesson, we recommend you access the following:


Everyone experiences anxiety at some time. While it can feel unpleasant, it isn’t harmful, and may be helpful in motivating the person experiencing it to solve everyday problems. For example, feeling anxious before an exam can help a student to prioritise studying over spending time with their friends.

Anxiety disorders are different from normal (helpful) anxiety because they are more severe, they last longer, and they interfere with things like work, school and relationships.

Investigation: What is anxiety?

  1. As a class group, watch the video clip ‘About feeling stressed, anxious, worried or down’.

  2. Ask students to draw an outline of the human body.

  3. Ask students to write down, in appropriate places on their drawing, the signs and symptoms of anxiety – e.g. racing heart, sweaty hands.

  4. Ask students to circle the signs and symptoms that signify ‘normal’ anxiety, and to underline the signs and symptoms that characterise an anxiety disorder – e.g. can’t leave the house = disorder, raised heart rate = normal.

  5. Ask students to write down, outside the figure, the risk factors of anxiety – e.g. family history, personality, stressful events.

  6. As a class, discuss the following questions:

    • Can anxiety be beneficial?

    • What is the difference between ‘normal’ anxiety and an anxiety disorder?

    • When is it appropriate to seek professional help for anxiety?

Activity 2

Group presentation: Anxiety disorders

30 minutes

  1. Divide the class into groups of 3–4 students.

  2. Allocate each group an anxiety disorder to investigate:

  3. Each group will spend three minutes explaining to the class their allocated anxiety disorder. Encourage students to think of interesting ways to present this information – e.g. on butcher’s paper, through pictures, stories, etc. Questions they can consider when researching their explanation include:

    • What is the definition of the disorder?

    • What are the common signs and symptoms?

    • What are the common treatment options?

Activity 3

Individual reflection: Coping with anxiety

10 minutes

  1. Students access the article ‘7 tips to help with stress and anxiety’.

  2. Students think about a recent event that caused them anxiety.

  3. Students choose three strategies they would have found helpful in managing this anxiety. The strategies could be taken from the article, or the students may have ones they already use.

  4. If comfortable doing so, students share their strategies with a partner and explain why they chose each one.


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