As many students head back into the classrooms this fall, they face situations that looked and felt different before COVID all started. For many students younger and older wearing a mask, wondering about getting sick and worrying about loved ones with COVID could affect their mental and physical health.
Anxiety has become a topic of many as students return to school. Anxiety as outlined on WebMD is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease feeling of an event or unknown, uncertain outcome. Many people suffer from anxiety and many children have been diagnosed to have anxiety. According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, 4.4 million children between the ages of 3 to 17 have anxiety.
What causes anxiety you ask? Well, there are many factors that may cause anxiety. First it can be the unknown. For students this means: “What will school be like when wearing a mask all day.” Or “Will I make friends easy, since I have been online for so long and not on campus?” These questions can turn into a worry and before long consistent worries. Knowing where the root of anxiety comes from can be tricky, but looking at all areas in your life is the key to helping you navigate how to help control and deal with anxiety. When discovering anxiety, look at your mental state (do you worry and if so, what do you worry about?) How about your physical state: Exercising and eating well also can play a role in your anxiety? Other factors can include, environmental stress or a family history of anxiety. All of these areas play a major role when detecting where anxiety stems from.
Supporting Students With Anxiety
So, how do you fix anxiety? And, how do you know if you have it?
First make sure you know what the difference is between a worry, consistent worry or stress. Often worries tend to go away over a period of time, but with anxiety they stick around longer than they should.
Anxiety will look a little different for everyone. Some kids or adults could be dealing with lack of sleep. Others tend to worry so much that they have trouble focusing on a single task. Those that have extreme anxiety could experience an increase in their heart rate and can experience sweaty palms.
There are others that have anxiety attacks, that have to control their breathing and be removed from the environment that is causing the anxiety.
The following are some tips to look for if you think you have Anxiety:
- Your heart rate goes up
- You may start to pace back and forth
- Consistent worry
- Sweaty hands
- Having problems sleeping at night
- Having trouble focusing
- Uncomfortable being around large crowds.
To help students deal with anxiety, I teach them breathing techniques. I show them how to simply put their hand over their stomach area and take 4 to 5 deep breaths very slowly. Another technique that I have shared with my students, is to rub their hands together when they think they are feeling anxious.
Rubbing your hands together can teach the mind into focusing on the heat that is being developed between your palms and put off the feeling of being anxious. Another method that can be used is to talk about anxiety with loved ones. Communication can help people understand their feelings and emotions better.
Journal writing and drawing are other methods that can also help with anxiety in the classroom. Many people feel that writing in a journal about how they are feeling, or drawing any form of picture relaxes them and allows themselves to focus on something other than feeling anxious.
For those that have anxiety or know someone who might be experiencing some form of school anxiety, Total Education Solutions is here to help. Or, visit another post of ours if you’re looking for advice on when to seek counseling for your child.
By: Lisa Pino (Licensed School Counselor)