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

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management

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.
Activity 01

Investigation: What is anxiety? 20 min

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?