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Sometimes we can feel as if everything is going wrong and we don’t know what to do. At these points in our life we might say “I’m stressed” – but what do we mean by this?

The first thing to note is that some feelings of anxiety can be useful. Imagine if Wonder Woman had not become anxious when she learnt about Dr. Poison’s plans to develop a new bio-weapon? Wonder Woman might have decided to stay in the island of Themyscira rather than teaming up with pilot Steve Trevor to defeat the threat. Therefore, experiencing a small amount of anxiety can be helpful.

In fact, as we go about our lives, we are all on the lookout for danger. When we walk across a road, for example, we will check for cars so we can avoid them. When we see a potential threat, that information is passed to an area of the brain called the amygdala, which checks if we really are in danger. The amygdala is like Spider-Man’s amazing spider-sense which allows him to detect danger in the environment. However, Spider-Man’s amygdala may be a little more enhanced compared to ours as he can sense something is wrong even before it happens.

Once our amygdala has confirmed that we are facing a threat it passes this information on to another area of the brain called the hypothalamus. The job of the hypothalamus is to get us ready for action. Some superheroes, like Superman and Daredevil, have enhanced hearing, which means that they can sense very quickly that there might be a threat in the environment. For example, as soon as they hear the heart rate of people around them increasing, the amygdala can sense the potential danger and the hypothalamus can get them ready for action. The quick action of the amygdala and the hypothalamus can also keep us safe from threats such as speeding cars or stray footballs.

However, sometimes our stress response can go wrong, and we might feel like we are stuck on high alert even though we are not in immediate danger. Or we might start to feel sad and burned out because we have been anxious for a long time. This can be hard to deal with and can make us feel upset or angry. It is important to remember that these feelings are temporary and there are lots of things we can do to help us feel better. When we look at the world of superheroes, we can see that superheroes often feel upset and can find it difficult to relax. For example, after the battle in Sokovia and the defeat of Ultron, Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk) leaves Earth as he is finding it difficult to deal with all the destruction he has seen. Thor (the God of Thunder) finds Bruce on the planet Sakaar where he has taken the form of the Hulk and is fighting as the Grandmaster’s champion in the battle arena. Thor tries to calm the Hulk down using the calming techniques used by the Black Widow, but it does not work. However, slowly over time Bruce learns to control his anxiety and with the help of his friends he starts to feel better. 

“I need a day when there aren’t twenty crises to deal with, but I don’t see that coming any time soon.” – Iron Man

By the time we see the Hulk again in the Avengers Endgame movie we find him still green but happy and relaxed. Bruce Banner has learnt to deal with the unhappiness he was feeling and is looking after his wellbeing. In the other sections you will find some useful information on how to look after your wellbeing so you can feel happier and chilled too.

If you want to learn more about managing your anxiety check out the No Panic Youth Hub: