A FORMER international athlete is coaching teachers and pupils in Dumfriesshire on how to manage their anxiety.

Ex-javelin thrower Jen Kemp qualified for the Commonwealth Games in 2002 but never competed as a result of anxiety.

Kemp, 42, who went on to become a PE teacher, discovered STILL at the start of lockdown, a new method used to manage anxiety.

The STILL method, which stands for Stop, Talk, Imagine, Listen and Learn, was created by the former social worker and anxiety specialist, Stuart Thompson.

Kemp said: “I stumbled across the STILL method by chance while looking online. I was immediately taken by what I read and contacted Stuart, who created STILL, to undergo training. 

“My anxiety held me back in competing in my dream event but we don’t have to be facing the Commonwealth Games to make us panic.

“We all have fears we have to face every day I could see right away how STILL could give people strategies to overcome anxiety and move forward. 

"I’ve always been passionate about helping young people and I know what it’s like to be a teacher. With this coaching, I feel I’ve found my calling."

For the last year, Kemp has been coaching staff and students at Annan Academy, giving them a range of practical strategies and skills to manage worries caused by school life.

Many senior pupils are currently sitting in-person exams for the first time, with the previous two years disrupted due to the pandemic. 

Sixth-year pupil Jack Lynch said: “I get very really worried about exams and work all the time.

“Techniques like pushing against the wall and managing my tension through breathing have been extremely helpful and help to calm me down.

“I’m feeling a lot better than I did.”

Speaking about the work Kemp has done, Annan Academy’s Headteacher Ewan Murray said: “She is providing pupils and staff with habits and behaviours they will be able to use for the rest of their lives - her support has been phenomenal.”