How can I manage academic anxiety?
Academic anxiety can be influenced by a variety of factors that cause symptoms that differ from person-to-person. Here, you can find tools for managing this anxiety when it begins to interfere with your academic functioning.
A small amount of anxiety can be beneficial, motivating students to put effort into assignments. (This is called facilitative anxiety.)
When this anxiety becomes too severe, however, it can interfere with your ability to do schoolwork. Learners can use various methods to gain awareness of their anxiety and maintain its helpfulness. Click on the below links to learn more!
Managing Physical Symptoms
When you begin to feel physical symptoms of anxiety, such as sweaty palms, nausea, a racing heartbeat, rapid breathing, or other physical symptoms, there are many methods you can use to bring your body back to a state of calmness.
Relaxation techniques can be an effective way to calm nerves and prepare your body to focus before an exam, a presentation, or big project. There are a variety of relaxation techniques that you can try. Some strategies may work better for you than others, you might have to try a few to figure out what works best:
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Visualization and Positive Imagery
- Deep Breathing Exercises
For Ball State Students: The Resource and Relaxation Room in the BSU Counseling Center is a great place to practice these skills and find more mental-health resources.
Here are some additional online resources for recognizing and managing physical symptoms:
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Recognizing and easing the physical symptoms of anxiety”
- For educators! “Beating Test Anxiety: 10 Mindful Practices to Restore Your Classroom“
Managing Cognitive and Behavioral Symptoms
Cognitive symptoms of academic anxiety may appear as feelings of worry before an exam, intrusive thoughts about failure that make it difficult to focus on schoolwork, or difficulties remembering information even after studying (“going blank”).
Relaxation techniques like those listed above can be beneficial for managing cognitive symptoms as well, though there are additional things you can do to reframe this worry:
- Practice positive self-talk and eliminate negative/critical self-talk
- Learn healthy coping habits (healthy vs. unhealthy coping)
- Learn stress management techniques
- Practice time-management and organization skills (This is an important one!)
- Practice study skills, like learning how to take notes and use a planner
Procrastination and feeling the need to avoid work (by putting it off altogether or working on a smaller, unrelated task) is a common example of behavioral symptoms of academic anxiety. The above tips can help alleviate these symptoms as well. One of the most effective things to try if you are experiencing these symptoms is to build a system for yourself by practicing organizational skills, which can increase your feelings of ‘preparedness’ before exams or projects.
Visit this page for a more detailed overview of how to cope with cognitive symptoms of academic anxiety.
For Ball State Students: The academic coaches in the BSU Learning Center can give you one-on-one assistance with building study skills and organization if you aren’t sure where to start!