Understanding How Anxiety Affects Students

When we are anxious, our bodies give us clues…physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety.

Understanding How Anxiety Affects Students

Anxiety is a normal part of life. We all have experienced anxiety at some point, felt our pulse race, breath become shallow and quick, and muscles start to shake and tremor. Our bodies tell us that we are in danger and need to act quickly to maintain our safety. Or we could be preparing to do something important, and those nerves remind us how much we care about being successful.

Anxiety is uncomfortable, however, for many adults and children, and we can use coping skills to manage and reduce the uneasiness. Each event is an opportunity to reinforce the idea that we have the capacity to face difficult challenges and overcome them.

Anxiety at School

For a growing number of our students, what has been typical anxiety is changing. There has been a significant increase of anxiety in students and adults. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a noticeable rise in students reporting feelings of anxiety and worry. However, the impact of the pandemic on schools and communities left students and adults showing a sharp increase in anxiety. Navigating changes in learning environments, increased isolation, a greater dependence on social media for social interaction, fear associated with the unknown, and conflicting information about the pandemic left children experiencing higher levels of anxiety and worry about their physical, emotional, and social safety.

Additionally, the increase of violence in and around our school campuses has left students, their families, and their communities in heightened states of anxiety and concern. The continued occurrences of school shootings and the challenges in effectively reducing the threats to our schools and communities have intensified anxiety experienced by children and adults.

Anxiety at Home

As families navigate the challenges of maintaining households, balancing work and leisure, and planning for the future, many students are assuming more adult responsibilities to help make ends meet. They are caring for siblings, providing basic needs, and working to contribute financially while carrying the weight of schoolwork, maintaining social connections, and discovering who they are and what they want to do in their lives. Many of these students are still developing and growing and may not have the cognitive, social, and physical skills to successfully manage all they are asked. These complex situations are fraught with anxiety and worry.

How Anxiety Feels in My Body

Sometimes it is hard to know what is causing our anxiety. When that happens, our bodies can give us clues. These clues are called symptoms of anxiety. We can have physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety.

To help students recognize those symptoms use this FREE How Anxiety Feels in My Body Worksheet. They label the body with a variety of symptoms your body may express when it is feeling anxious.

Written by Dr. Leigh Bagwell.

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