5 steps to reducing anxiety in higher education
SO you are just about to start your certificate, Diploma or Degree. You are nervous and that little voice in your head is starting to get louder...
Can I do it...will I understand the work...what will it be like...will the people be friendly...what if I fail? the little voice goes on and on...
You are causing yourself anxiety before you even start...you are pre-empting situations that MAY NOT EVEN OCCUR! so firstly...change your frame of mind and start to answer that little voice in your head.
Even better - write down the thoughts on paper and answer them as per below ideas;
Can I do it? - Yes, I know I can do it!
Will I understand the work? - of course I will as I'll ask questions if I'm unsure
What will it be like? - It's very exciting to start something new, I know I'll enjoy it
Will the people be friendly - Yes they will be as they are all in the same position
What if I fail? - I won't fail as i'll work really hard and gain support if I need it
Set yourself up with a positive mindset BEFORE you start.
I've seen so many students over the years in education stressed, having anxiety attacks, low self-esteem and low confidence...every year it gets worse. This is not medical advice it is purely observations from the classroom and chatting to students.
If you suffer anxiety in the classroom, specifically at TAFE or UNI try some of these tips:
Write down your goals; What do you want to achieve by the course (career goals), what social goals do you want to achieve (gain some friends, be social), what personal goals do you want to achieve (more comfortable talking in public, gain confidence), what physical goals do you want to achieve or maintain?
Then next to the above goals; write HOW you are going to achieve them, i.e.if one of your goals is to be more social, perhaps you will aim to talk to at least 2-3 students each day...
Turn off your phone; this is absolutely crucial!!, you cannot concentrate and be fully present if you are constantly looking at your phone at breaks and lunch time, put your phone away and talk to your fellow students. Social interaction greatly reduces anxiety.
Don't compare; This is the area that generally causes the MOST anxiety in every student that I chat to. DO NOT compare yourself to others, everyone has different learning styles, work methods and capabilities. Some students take a long time to process information, they 'need' to completely understand the tasks before they can start them. Other students are comfortable learning the tasks as they work through them. There is no right or wrong, just individual learning :) Acknowledge this and move on.
Be organised; You must learn to be organised and have good time management skills. If you are constantly rushing, not organised, don't know when assessments are due this will cause you a huge amount of stress and anxiety. Set yourself a schedule, routine and a study plan. Try to stick to the routine and schedule every week as this will greatly reduce your stress and your work will be completed on time!
Finally; Enjoy the journey and look forward to the destination. Constantly review your goals and how you are achieving them, update when necessary to keep yourself on track.