Anxiety In the School Year

Anxiety In the School Year

Kate Murray, Staff Reporter

School is back, and coming with it are all the tests, assignments, and grades everyone dreads.   There are many good reasons for all of these, I know, and most of them are offset by other fun things that roll back into season, but sometimes the stress can become nearly unmanageable without help.

School counselor Allison Diblasi is quick to assure that “anxiety is a normal part of life, it’s your body telling you something’s not quite right.” However, when anxiety begins to interfere with everyday life and make even the smallest thing seem impossible it has gone beyond what is normal and healthy.

Personally, my anxiety had a tendency to get so bad I would have to go home halfway through the day, due to either panic attacks or just because the stress was so much I was figuratively sick.

I very much doubt I was alone in my continual anxiety troubles. GAD, or general anxiety disorder, is likely to develop in the high school years, and homework does nothing to help.  GAD is essentially being extremely worried about everything without real reason, and many, if not all, who suffer from it realize that there is no reason to fear yet cannot relax.

“You’re telling yourself a story,” says Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor at ISU. “You’re spitting out what could happen… and it’s your story that’s what’s making you anxious.”

Grades are also a significant contributor to anxiety, and with so many new freshmen entering the age when they are most likely to develop GAD, and people who are just anxious, here are some tips for how to deal with anxiety.

1. Try to go for a walk at least once a day.  It really does help, and I say this both from personal experience and on the authority of my licensed therapist.

2. Think about it from a third person point of view. Imagine your favorite character is having your same problems and worrying just as much.  What would you say to cheer them up?  Remember, they’re experiencing the same anxiety as you, so whatever you say to them also applies to you.  Now flip it around, and imagine what they would say to you if they saw you worrying.

3. Distract yourself from your worry.  A certain amount of anxiety is good, it helps prepare you, but if it gets overwhelming, do something else.  I write stories.  Someone else might draw a picture or play a videogame, but anything works as long as it gets your mind off your stressors.  “The only way to keep the [anxiety] going is to tell the story,”  said Gentile.  If you stop telling yourself the story for a little bit, you can start to feel a lot better.

4. Meditate.  Anxiety is about worrying about what awful things might happen and meditation teaches you “to be mindful of what’s really happening… And when you connect with that moment of what’s really going on now, it’s usually pretty okay,”  Gentile says.  If you are interested in practicing meditation, the meditation club meets after school Thursdays in room 201.

5. Find someone to talk to.  A professional therapist is obviously your best choice, but if your anxiety isn’t unbearable, or you just don’t want to, friends are always available.  Or, if you’d rather not do that either, keep a journal.  You can still let your feelings out, but no one has to know what you are writing.  If your anxiety is completely overpowering, however, it is the school counselor’s role to aid you in finding more professional help, and they encourage you to contact them.

Now go forth!  Conquer your anxiety and enjoy the school year.