Supporting Students Who Experience Anxiety

Anxiety is the anticipation of the unexpected. It is a normal part of life. When harnessed it can be a positive force that can encourage us to take a chance and try something new.

However, as with all things in life, too much of anything is not good for you.

When I am explaining the purpose and process of anxiety to a student in my office I will often use visuals. For example the Yerkes Dodson Law, represented below, provides a visual on the impact of extended arousal (or stress) on a person`s ability to perform.

Anxiety are the thoughts and stress are the symptoms.

Strong anxiety can move our bodies into a physical state called the Fight or Flight Response.


 Historically our bodies evolved to protect us from physical threats such as predators. If a cave person wanted to survive they could NOT stop to think about what species of wild cat might be after them. Rather they needed to react.

Today the students in my office do not have to worry about wild cats attacking them.

However the Fight or Flight Response is still often triggered by thoughts about situations we perceive as threatening.

Common topics of concern for high school students often include: athletics,  dating, economics,  family, friendships, peer relationships,  pressure to do well, test taking,  university/college acceptance, and  world events

Don`t worry there is HOPE.

The one thing that makes us uniquely human is our ability to rationally use our brains. If we can learn to become aware of what is happening in our bodies as we are starting to become stressed… we are able to evaluate our situations and determine whether there is actually a threat, or only a perceived one. This allows us to change our thinking patterns, and then move ourselves back into our optimal performance zones.

As a school counsellor I am there to teach my student about the topic of anxiety, help them talk about their fears, and guide them through learning tips and techniques for managing their own anxieties.

 

 

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