Anxiety can be debilitating and can make even the most confident person feel afraid and small. Below are three tips that if practiced together will help to get rid of your anxiety, not just at school but anywhere! These are coping skills and like any skill, you get better and more effective the more you practice. My advice is to practice when you aren't anxious. That way when the time comes for you to use the coping strategy you will be a pro and find it that much more useful.
1) Breathe. This seems automatic right? Not always. When we become anxious our breathing rate can increase or we can do the opposite and hold our breath. This contributes to the brain's stimulation of the fight, flight, freeze reflex. That automatic system that is helpful when being chased by a tiger but not so helpful when taking a math quiz and you have to think. The problem with the fight, flight, freeze response is that it shuts down our frontal lobe, the part of the brain that is responsible to thinking! One way to get our frontal lobe back in action is to take slow deep breaths. I like using square breathing. This is a technique where you breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds and then breathe out for 4 seconds and you guessed it, you do it 4 times. Next time you start feeling anxious give square breathing a try.
2) Wet noodle. What does this mean? Wet noodling is when you relax every muscle in your body, ultimately resembling a wet noodle. When your body is tense it sets off that fight, flight, freeze response and research shows that it is IMPOSSIBLE to set off that response if your muscles are relaxed. So what does that mean for you when you are taking a test and can't remember the answer, triggering a wave of uncontrollable anxiety? Take a moment to let all the muscles in your body go and start to feel your frontal lobe come back on board. It will be so much easier for you to come up with that answer if you are taking that test with a relaxed body.
3) Tapping. Ever wonder why you at times uncontrollably shake your leg when your anxious? It is our body's way of trying to re-engage the frontal lobe. A better and more effective way of doing that is to tap both feet alternating right and left. Better yet, get your hands involved and walk around. Research shows that when we engage both sides of our body our cortisol levels (that stress hormone that triggers the fight, flight, freeze response) drop and thus we are better able to use that most important part of our brain, the frontal lobe.