Worrying about things that are uncertain or stress before a significant event is normal. If this worry or stress persists and becomes disruptive to healthy living, then it is anxiety. Anxiety is more common than people think, with 1 in 3 teenagers experiencing anxiety.
People with anxiety may experience the following:
- Physical: restlessness ,fatigue, muscle aches or tension, difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate or shortness of breath during peaked anxiety
- Emotional: excessive worry, constant stress, irritability, fearfulness
- Thoughts: focusing on worst case scenarios, constantly doubting yourself, negative self-concept, increased negativity, over-analyzing
- Behaviors: trying to avoid situations or people that make you anxious, excessive planning for every scenario
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist, or a counselor in NormanAid.
Test anxiety is a psychological condition in which people experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations. While many people experience some degree of stress and anxiety before and during exams, test anxiety can actually impair learning and hurt test performance.
Similar to testing anxiety is performance anxiety which can occur before a big recital, an important game, or a presentation.
People with testing/performance anxiety tend to experience sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, fainting, or stomach pain/nausea. They may also become fidgety and have a hard time focusing or remembering information, their mind “going blank.” You may feel helpless in these situations.What can you do? Here are some helpful resources:
- Make sure you're prepared. That means studying for the test early until you feel comfortable with the material. Don't wait until the night before. If you aren't sure how to study, ask your teacher or parent for help. Being prepared will boost your confidence, which will lessen your test anxiety.
- Banish the negative thoughts. If you start to have anxious or defeated thoughts, such as "I'm not good enough," "I didn't study hard enough," or "I can't do this," push those thoughts away and replace them with positive thoughts. "I can do this," "I know the material," and "I studied hard," can go far in helping to manage your stress level when taking a test.
- Get enough sleep. A good night's sleep will help your concentration and memory.
- Take deep breaths. If you start to feel anxious while you're taking your test, breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Work through each question or problem one at a time, taking a deep breath in between each one as needed.
- Avoid the perfectionist trap. Don't expect to be perfect. We all make mistakes and that's okay. Knowing you've done your best and worked hard is really all that matters, not perfection.
You can learn anxiety calming techniques and cognitive exercises to challenge your negative thoughts with a counselor at NormanAid Wellness Center.