Anxiety in Students: 10 Self-help Tips for Anxious Students | Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many students feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at school, before taking a test/examination, or making an important academic decision.
What does anxiety do to students? In someone with an anxiety problem, it seems, the brain is making incorrect decisions about what to fear and the prefrontal cortex fails to suppress the amygdala (the region of the brain located in the medial temporal lobe, believed to play a key role in the emotions of human), putting the body into fight or flight mode.
In this state, levels of the hormone adrenaline rise and the sympathetic nervous system – which controls automatic activities (like breathing) rather than conscious action – takes over. The heart rate rises, breathing speeds up and blood is diverted to the limbs, blood pressure and body temperature increase, and you may start to sweat.
According to a clinical psychologist, Dr Angharad Rudkin, this is not a state conducive to learning or concentrating in an examination.
In October, Anxiety UK alongside Dr Rudkin, launched a student guide to anxiety. Here are the top 10 self-help tips for anxious students:
- If you feel the panic setting in, tell yourself: don’t panic; you can do this. Self talk can reduce anxiety.
- Controlling your breathing. Try breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding for two seconds, then breathing out through your mouth for six seconds.
- If you don’t like large busy lecture rooms, always sit near the exit. Record the lectures so you can listen back to it when you get to a calm place.
- Break your coursework into small units. This requires planning and means not leaving everything to the last minute.
- Most research into young people’s attention span suggests a limit of 40 minutes, so read/work in half-hour units with short breaks between for a drink or a breath of fresh air.
- Procrastination is the anxious person’s biggest enemy. Convince yourself to read/work for just five minutes. Once you’ve started you may be able to keep going. If not, at least you have achieved five minutes of work or reading.
- Be kind to yourself – but disciplined. It is easy to become your own worst enemy. Accept that things are tough right now and think about how you can work with your brain to make things happen.
- Moderate your alcohol and caffeine consumption. Excessive caffeine increases symptoms of anxiety and although alcohol is a relaxant it may not help the next day.
- Remember you are not alone in this. Everyone else may look as if they are coping fine but many of them are struggling too. Try talking to people.
- Follow a healthy routine of eating, sleeping and exercise. Even 30 minutes walking a day can reduce anxiety. Disrupted sleeping and eating are classic symptoms of anxiety and can create a vicious cycle. If this is happening, seek help.
Hope this is helpful. Study with a free mind to achieve excellent academic standards.