Overcoming Anxiety in the Classroom

This is the third post in a four-part series about students, stress, and anxiety. The first article is an overview of anxiety, the second looks at a relaxation program for elementary and middle school students, the third discusses how a student learned to manage her anxiety, and the fourth explores how mindfulness can reduce anxiety.

By Via Valenti

Being a student with anxiety, adjusting to new classrooms, a new environment, and delving into a social life isn’t always easy. Before my acceptance into Landmark for my sophomore year of high school, I attended eight schools with the hope that one would be the right fit for me and my learning style and a suitable place to help keep my anxiety under control. None of them were. Fortunately, Landmark came into the picture and became my academic home. The school altered the course of my future and taught me how to be an advocate inside and outside the classroom not only for myself but also for others struggling with anxiety. 

My anxiety is my biggest strength for teaching me about myself, and a weakness I have not let hold me back.As a sophomore at Bryant University, I wish I could say that I’ve mastered how to deal with classroom nerves and social anxiety. However, that’s not completely true. I still struggle with anxiety, years after making strides toward overcoming its dominant presence in my life. But my time at Landmark allowed me to make significant progress from where I was. Landmark taught me how to utilize my resources, be an advocate for myself, and to persevere even if it feels impossible.

Taking Advantage of Resources in College

My freshman year, I lived in Bryant’s wellness housing, a substance-free dorm that fit my lifestyle and allowed for a more quiet living space that made me feel at home. For my academics, I have weekly appointments with disability services, a resource on campus for students who struggle with academic challenges like dyslexia or anxiety. I meet one- on-one with a learning specialist to talk about my classes, and we spend time adjusting my in-classroom accommodations, such as extra time for assignments and exams and a separate testing area to alleviate nerves.

Everything I learned at Landmark still holds true today: I advocate for myself by meeting with my professors, I get involved and meet new people, and I’m certainly not afraid to be different.

Via’s Strategies and Tips to Control Anxiety

  • Find an activity that calms you. I really, really enjoy yoga classes.
  • Stay involved on campus. Being social and talking to people can help alleviate a lot of anxiety because it keeps you distracted and absorbed in your commitments, so you don’t have time to worry!   
  • Music is really helpful when you get bad thoughts or start to overthink;  it can help distract you. Verbalizing the lyrics out loud can change your brain’s thinking to focus on the lyrics rather than the thoughts you’re having.
  • I always take an hour out of every day for “me” time. Life is really overwhelming, and if you don’t stop and take a few minutes to yourself, you will go crazy with your thoughts.

There are some days when your anxiety will be worse than others, and there are other days your anxiety won’t get you down at all. I’ve learned that my success in college is not limited to just my good days. The bad days don’t keep me from pursuing my passions and involvement on campus, and they push me to face my anxiety, use my resources, and confront what’s out of my control. My anxiety is my biggest strength for teaching me about myself, and a weakness I have not let hold me back.

via valentiVia Valenti graduated from Landmark High School in 2017. She’s majoring in politics and law with a double minor in business administration and communications. She’s active in several groups on campus.

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