If you live in India, then you know that Mental…
Anxiety as an emotion is prevalent among persons of all age groups yet it is not given due acknowledgement. According to Oxford Medicine, anxiety “refers to multiple mental and physiological phenomena, including a person’s conscious state of worry over a future unwanted event, or fear of an actual situation”.
Anxiety is a bodily mechanism which informs a person of some presence in their surroundings which requires attention. This results in a series of biochemical changes in your brain and body, such as an increase in adrenaline and a decrease in dopamine which lead to heightened attention to the source of the anxiety which may activate the fight or flight response in an individual. Many external factors affect the levels of anxiety in a person, one of which may be their schooling years.
It is common that a student’s intelligence is measured according to his or her academic performance. This creates an academic pressure on students to perform and score well on their examinations, eventually leading to academic anxiety. Anxiety is not bad in itself and small levels of it are relatively normal. In fact, small levels of anxiety in a person tend to increase their motivation to finish their tasks and help students’ academic performance. However, high levels of anxiety become detrimental to a student’s mental and physical health, leading to breakdown in their learning process which leads to sub-standard scores. With poor academic performances the anxiety a student faces from academic tasks will increase.
As per research, such anxiety has four parts, namely, worry, emotionality, task-generated interference, and study skills deficits. Worry refers to the thoughts and emotions which result in a lack of focus and serve as hurdles in a student’s successful completion of their tasks. Emotionality means the physical effects of anxiety which may present themselves in forms of increased heart-rate, sweaty palms, tensed muscles, etc.
Task-generated interference relates to those habits which relate to the respective tasks at hand but are non-conducive to their completion. Study skills deficits are the lacunae in a student’s study practices which create anxiety, such as, last-minute mugging up without conceptual understanding, bad notation which confuses a student while completing their assignments, etc. Procrastination in finishing assignments, projects, etc. also increases stress and guilt factors in students, leading to anxiety.
Society places an enormous importance on academic achievements and pushes forward the narrative that it is only through education that a person can live a successful and fulfilling life. This is one of the biggest external factors which leads to academic anxiety. Further, parental expectations may also contribute towards guilt in young minds if they are not able to perform well and achieve academic excellence.
Recent studies correlating academic anxiety and academic performance have recommended that teachers working in all educational institutions should work towards ensuring a low-stress environment is maintained so that students concentrate on effective learning and not be disturbed and deterred by academic anxiety. Schools and families have a responsibility of helping students to manage their academic anxiety through counselling, relaxation and behavioral techniques. Students should not be over-burdened with multiple assignments, activities and examinations consecutively so that they can have time to relax and pursue their non-academic interests.
Anxiety is not something that can be completely done away with, however there are some methods which may help a student to cope with the struggles academic anxiety poses. Slow breathing techniques to reduce the rate of breathing informs the brain and body there is no emergency is one of the most effective methods to reduce anxiety. Mental grounding activities, journaling, visualization, mental safe spaces also are few coping mechanisms.
Diet of an individual also plays an important role and eating balanced meals and avoiding caffeine is often recommended to help in maintaining a good mental health. Physical activities have also shown better moods and increased concentration levels in students. Before pursuing anything, it must be acknowledged that health is wealth, and a student must be fit both mentally and physically to lead a fulfilling life.