Guest post by PyscApps
Anxiety is a common feeling we experience in various situations and most of the time it is a natural and healthy response to have like feeling happy or sad.
Unfortunately, in some cases, anxiety can last for 14 days or longer with no objective reason to worry about. This is when we need to reach out for help. If you find yourself feeling anxious regularly and it is affecting parts of your life, it is important to begin looking at building resilience within yourself to prevent this feeling from taking over your mental state.
For students, a common cause of anxiety stems from their learning establishment. The rapid growth of social media trends on outlets such as TikTok has heightened the pressure for young people to ‘fit in’ with their peers. This is not to also rule out internal causes of anxiety within school, and with the school year drawing to a close, you may be overwhelmed with exam pressure and what the next academic year brings for you. We’re here to address these obstacles as well as give our top tips on how to tackle these feelings.
Top causes of anxiety in school:
Did you know that only 15% of UK students said they enjoyed going to school every day in 2022*? If you’re feeling anxious at school, it could be due to one of the following causes:
We often see academic anxiety towards the end of our academic lifespan and the pressure to receive top grades in order to get into colleges, universities, or apprenticeships is intense. You may find that this starts in the classroom or when you are revising at home.
Being around a large group of people 5 days a week can make you question whether you fit in or not with others, especially when you are all the same age. Am I wearing the right trainers? Is my phone the newest there is? This may also extend into your personal life when you log on to social media once you’re a home
Unfortunately, bullying is still an ongoing major issue in schools around the UK. This may lead you to feel anxious about attending school inside the enclosed environment where these bullies spend their days just like you.
Differences in learning
There are so many different ways we choose to retain information. Some of us learn better by listening, others by writing and some by actioning. If you are unable to retain information by a learning style that is not suited to you, it may cause you to feel anxious about not holding on to bits of information.
Changes in environment
A common cause of anxiety that is specific to this time of year is the worry about the change in your environment. You may feel anxious about leaving school, keeping in contact with your friends, or about having new teachers and a different classroom in September.
Ways to combat these problems
Academic anxiety: keep in mind that, while grades and academic success do have an economic impact on people’s futures, there is a higher effect of well-being on grade outcomes, than the other way around. And that school is a relatively short period in people’s lives. Most adults will never be asked about their grades later in life. If you have high pressure for your self-expectation or your parents, that would be worth looking into. You may be holding on to the belief that your worthiness is connected to your academic success.
- Reframe your anxiety: is this a life or death situation or merely a wave on the surface of your life’s ocean?
- Build a framework: how well have you done in the past that can lead you to know what to expect?
- Set up a support system: keep your parents (if they are helpful and understanding) in the loop of how you’re feeling, bounce ideas off them, and ask them for comfort. The same with friends you can rely on
- Live healthily: sleep at least 8 hours, exercise, drink water, no coffee after 1 pm, keep learning sessions under 90 min, take 2-3 hour breaks
- None of the above seems strong enough: seek help. Therapists are exactly there for challenging times and are trained to help you manage anxiety
Social anxiety: We are social animals, we are literally built to depend upon others, build relationships, and integrate ourselves into social groups. If that is not going smoothly, it is natural and healthy to feel alarmed: time to try something new!
- Resource mapping: map your friends, who you can trust and confide in, whose shoulder you can cry on. Quality over quantity. Research shows that having 3 close friends is better for your mental health than having 20 acquaintances. Once you’ve mapped out who’s there, you will know if you need to grow your inner circle, or if you should celebrate a moment of gratitude
- Don’t compare your real life to other people’s highlight reels. On social media, not all is as it appears to be. Be mindful of how following certain people makes you feel and unfollow anyone who doesn’t inspire you or who you’re not enjoying.
- Invest in relationships. Active listening is one of the most important skills you will ever learn. People want to be heard.
Bullying: As stated above, we are social animals, and being excluded from a group, or even actively picked on takes us emotionally back to the days when being excluded meant you were likely to be eaten by a sabertooth tiger the next day. Your nervous system will react that way, and it’s doing its job.
- Change your environment. Bullies usually struggle with mental illness and are seldom to be reasoned with. Move classes, seats, and rooms if you can.
- Ask for help. Counseling services at your institution are supposed to help, and many of them do it well. Schedule a meeting.
- Take responsibility for your social impact. There is never an excuse for bullying, but you may have social strategies that are unbeneficial in social settings and alienate you from your peers. Therapy or a candid discussion with a compassionate friend may help surface any if at all. Then decide if that is something you want to change or not.
Differences in learning: The modern school setting is not human-centric and we simply do not all fit the mold. If you have differences in learning from your peers I dare say the system fails at accommodating you – not that you are failing the system. That said, it won’t change anytime soon, so you need to work with what is there.
- Find out the best way you learn and do more of that
- Get teachers and tutors on your side. If they know you’re struggling and not being ‘lazy’ they are more likely to support you
- Reframe your academic self-expectations: you do not need to be a rocket scientist – find out what your jam is and follow that path instead of trying to squeeze yourself into career requirements
Changes in environment:
- Set up structures and routines
- Reframe anxiety to anticipation
- Remind yourself of all the times you mastered change in your life ü
- Find a safe place as soon as possible – a coffee shop, library, dance club
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