Term 4 usually marks the beginning of one of those crazy busy times for families. End of year assessments, various functions to attend, decisions to make, and so on. 2020 has thrown a few other things into the mix, hasn’t it? Uncertainty has entered our lives in a way, quite unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. If you’re a parent of a Year 12 student, there are other pressures too. Long-held rituals (formal, graduation, schoolies, assessment etc.) will look different this year.
Anxiety has been running hot this year for some students and parents, so for the next few weeks, I plan on looking at how it affects us as well as some strategies and techniques for managing it. Most of the information I use is coming from Bret A. Moore’s very useful book, ‘Taking Control of Anxiety: Small Steps for Getting the Best of Worry, Stress and Fear’*.
Anxiety is difficult to describe. Some time in our lives, each of us have experienced an unpleasant feeling of apprehension, concern or dread. Since we’re all unique individuals, we will experience it in different ways. Anxiety can be known as worry, fear or stress. While we would like to eliminate anxiety completely out of our lives, that’s an unreasonable goal whereas having a goal of controlling it is more achievable.
Basically, the feeling of anxiety, is a combination of three things from our biology, environment and psychology. When we face a threat, our bodies swing into action, increasing our heart rate, flooding us with various chemicals and electrical impulses, to help us either run away or stand up and fight the threat. Once the threat has passed, things settle down inside us. Our environment consists of our relationships, home, families, work and school to name a few and we are continually being challenged in one or more of these areas. Our psychological makeup contributes greatly to the level of anxiety we might feel, with our perception and interpretation of people’s responses to us or the situations we are in greatly influencing us. Next week, we’ll look at these thoughts.
Anxiety in itself is not a bad thing and serves critical functions in our lives. It’s okay to feel anxious about some things, but it becomes a problem if it is persistent and seriously disrupting our lives. We do not have to let anxiety control us, but we can learn some techniques to manage and control it. Children can learn and practices these techniques as well.
*(Bret A. Moore, Taking Control of Anxiety: Small Steps for Getting the Best of Worry, Stress and Fear. APA, 2014.)