5 November 2014

Dealing with Anxiety in Education

So, before I post this, I just want to say that it's something quite personal for me to put online, but I wanted to do it as it's something that I feel could possibly help some people. If I had something like this to read when I was just learning about this, it would have been a massive help but there was nothing around, so I'm writing this to change that a little bit.
If you hadn't guessed by the title of the blog post, this is about anxiety. As the years have gone on, it has become a more recognised condition and I think the work from Youtubers such as Zoe Sugg aka 'Zoella' has helped to raise awareness of the condition. I know there are a lot of different types of anxiety, but specifically today, I wanted to talk about anxiety in education. Now, it's completely normal to get feelings of anxiety before you go into an exam, it's always good to be nervous because I find some nerves help you to perform better. However, there is a line that is crossed when it comes to anxiety in education and that comes when it's hard for a student to go into school/college/university because they begin to panic and feel sick before they go in. In this blog post, I'm going to tell you a little bit about what happened to me, what I did and the techniques I use to calm me down.

My Story
Throughout my education, I have loved my school life. I've made so many wonderful friends and I have had memories to treasure. I passed my GCSE's with brilliant grades and got into the Sixth Form I had always wanted to attend. Life couldn't be better, but it was when I started Sixth Form that things started to go wrong. From my very first day, I hated it. I didn't feel like I fit in but there was nothing I could do about it as no other College in my area was offering the courses I wanted to study. Nevertheless, I was doing quite well, getting decent grades in the majority of my subjects. However, I became bogged down with work and was putting myself under so much pressure and stress to get things done. I am an extreme perfectionist and I wanted things to be done to an acceptable standard, I didn't want to let anyone down. As you probably know already, I am an extremely passionate writer but when a certain teacher told me that my writing was terrible and made me keep repeating work because it 'wasn't up to standard' I began to hate College even more. I became petrified of this particular teacher, and as this developed, I became petrified of College. It got to the point where I was having mild panic attacks most mornings because I didn't want to go into College. I hated it, I didn't want to go and see my teachers, I felt like I couldn't do anything and that I wasn't good enough to pass my AS-Levels. I started to avoid College, making myself ill in the mornings so that I wouldn't have to attend. It was a horrible time, and it's something I still struggle with now. At first, my parents and I just thought I was unwell, but after having a conversation with my dear friend Kathryn, who has been absolutely amazing throughout the process of helping me deal with my anxiety, we figured that anxiety was a possibility and these feelings I was experiencing in the mornings were actually panic attacks. The first thing I did was go over to 'Zoella' as I knew she suffered with anxiety and I wanted to find out what I should do next. I went to my Doctor and explained to him what was happening and the feelings I was experiencing. He confirmed that I did have anxiety and that I was experiencing mild panic attacks, however, he failed to give me any advice on how to deal with it. I then asked him what to do if I went into College and started to panic and he just said "take yourself away from the situation" which didn't help much as it's not something you can do halfway through a lesson. I then took matters into my own hands and booked another appointment with a different Doctor who was 100% better than the first Doctor I saw. This Doctor really helped me and provided me with different techniques to help me to deal with my anxiety, she was a lifesaver. This is why I cannot stress enough that if you are not satisfied with the treatment you've been given by one GP, then go and see as many as you need to before you feel like you are being listened too. I also went in and spoke to my College, they didn't really do much but it was a good thing that they now knew what I was struggling with. Anxiety with College is not the only thing which can cause me to start panicking, there are various other things, one of which is public transport but slowly we are dealing with those things. I guess I just want you to know, if you're suffering with any form of anxiety, as silly as it may seem, you're not the only one.

Techniques for Dealing with things
I just want to stress that these are the things that I find work for me. However, if these things don't work for you, then I'm sorry, but different things work for different people and just keep trying out different things and I'm sure that you'll find something that will work for you.

  • If you can feel yourself getting stressed, speak to someone. I am so lucky to have Kathryn as she's been with me since day one and she completely understands. If you speak to someone you trust about the things that are worrying you then they can help to reassure you. Kathryn has literally been a complete lifesaver
  • People Watching. I tend to watch other people or watch things that are going on around me to try and take my mind off things
  • Create a Playlist. This helps quite a lot, I made a playlist of songs that make me happy, send a positive message and make me smile. This probably makes me want to dance but it does help a lot.
  • Take things slowly. Little steps, it's not necessarily going to happen in a minute, but keep taking little steps and sooner or later you'll learn how to deal with things
  • Breathe:
    Breathe in for 4 Seconds
    Hold your breath for 7 Seconds
    Exhale for 8 Seconds
    Repeat once or twice more
    This causes autonomic nervous system shift from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic response. This can be used for anxiety, panick attacks, exams and presentations
I hope this has helped at least one person. I'm sorry if it's not necessarily the most up-beat post but I just thought this might help some of you.
Lots of Love,
Meg x 
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