How to Deal With Anxiety (from a student with anxiety)

How to Deal With Anxiety (from a student with anxiety)

Have you ever seen a bunch of students shaking their legs or noticed yourself shaking your leg in class?

It’s 100% normal to be worried about an upcoming test or a grade in a hard class, but when this worry engulfs you, it is anxiety. 

Anxiety is intense fear that you feel for more than 2 weeks. Therapy may help in some cases, but a lot of people have to turn to antidepressants or may engage in unhealthy behaviors like self harm or substance abuse. 


General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

General anxiety disorder or GAD is a very common anxiety disorder and is usually associated with panic. Anxiety is more than panic. 

Signs of a Panic Attack/ Anxiety Attack

Some signs of a panic attack may include:

  • blanking out/ staring at the wall
  • lip biting
  • stuttering (without it being a speech problem)
  • shaking legs
  • clicking pens/ fidgeting 
  • crying
  • irritable mood
  • dizziness
  • “lump” in throat/ difficulty swallowing
  • clenching jaw
  • blurry vision 
  • “fishbowl” vision
  • enlarged pupils


PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder 

PTSD is usually associated with war veterans, but PTSD is from any sort of trauma.

Trauma can include:

  • abuse (child, sexual, domestic, emotional) 
  • death of a loved one/ pet
  • fire/ natural disasters
  • accidents (work, motor vehicle, “freak accidents”)
  • being diagnosed with a life- long disease (type 1 or 2 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders)
  • witness of suicide/ death
  • second hand trauma (hearing about someone’s trauma/ giving the other person trauma)
  • war

OCD- obsessive compulsive disorder

OCD is usually associated with always washing your hands after touching something, but OCD is the obsession of a thought that a person does the same exact thing to try to get “rid” of that thought or to make sure “nothing bad happens”.

This includes:

  • making sure there is a certain number of something
  • making sure something is straight or aligned and rechecking it to make sure it is completely “perfect”
  • washing hands/ excessive cleaning to ensure there are no germs or diseases
  • counting the number of times something is done (ie knocking on a door, turning a key, turning around, number of pages read, how many seconds/ times they have taken a drink) and then recounting it
  • Many others, but these are the most common

Social Anxiety Disorder- SAD

SAD is more than just being shy. People with this disorder are frozen in their seats when social situations are required. They will avoid everyone for fear of rejection or pain associated with socializing (ie the person might attack them and tell them they’re stupid.) They may have trouble talking to peers who might appear to be friendly, but think of other people as a threat. Signs of this might be:

  • Avoiding social situations
  • Becoming a ball/ closed off posture
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Being overly quiet, even when being directly talked to
  • Isolating themselves from people in fear that “they don’t like me”
  • Felling alienated
  • Alienating themselves
  • Not being able to make phone calls
  • Not being able to form friendships or relationships with peers, family, and other adults

Why does someone have SAD?

SAD is usually from bullying or emotional/ verbal abuse.

Social anxiety is not cute or “quirky.” It feels like you have everyone’s eyes on you and you’re about to mess up and they’ll laugh at you. There are people with SAD that can talk and are willing to talk, they just have a really hard time getting a chance to say what they want to. They feel like there is already rejection. It’s like thinking you failed the test when you haven’t actually failed the test.

What CAN I do to help someone having an anxiety attack?

  • Tell the person to take a deep breath
    • If they can’t breathe, they can’t get enough oxygen to the brain to think
  • Remind the person that they are safe
    • In an anxiety attack, people perceive that there is danger
  • Get them a drink of water
    • Dehydration will just make them more anxious.
    • Focusing on simple tasks like swallowing a drink will help them
    • Do NOT tell them these things though. You want to distract them from any type of worry.
  • Get an adult
    • An adult most likely knows how to deal with this and can get them the resources they need. It’s not that you don’t know how to help them, but sometimes you just need to ask for help so they can get help.

What can I do for myself?

  • Go to the bathroom. You don’t have to use the toilet, but take some time in a stall to take some deep breaths
  • Talk to a trusted adult
    • Chatting with someone might help you relieve your feelings and on top of that, you have someone that can help understand and get you resources (ie therapist, social worker, guidance counselor, or even a group for you to get help)
  • Drink water
  • Have sensory- friendly fidgets
  • Where something comfortable, even if it is considered “ugly”
  • Look into getting a therapist or regularly go to therapy 
  • Write down a list of things that calm you down when you are not anxious and carry it around with you. Look at it when you get anxious and pick a random activity out of it that is feasible for a classroom environment
  • Affirmations. These might be considered “cringe” or “self absorbed” but telling yourself nice things about yourself can really help you. Think of these things as something you would tell a friend.
    • Ex:
      • I am beautiful/handsome.
      • I am smart.
      • I am loved.
      • I am trying my best.
      • I got this.
    • Try to avoid putting “not” in your statements. The brain cannot perceive “not” when you’re anxious. The brain is saying “Do!” so the not part gets very ignored.
      • Ex: I am not dumb.
  • Self care. It is very important to take care of yourself. If you can’t take care fo yourself, you can’t take care of others. Just basic hygiene can go a long way. Be a friend to yourself. The first person you have to love is yourself before you can love others. Self love is hard, but in the end you’ll be glad that you chose to love yourself.

Things NOT to do to “help” a person is having an anxiety attack

  • Do NOT tell the person to “calm down”, they are trying to.
  • Do NOT tell them it’s all in their head/ “making mountains out of mole hills”
  • Do NOT shake, slap, or yell at the person
  • Do NOT remind them of their trauma or what is bothering them
  • Do NOT post them having a panic/ anxiety attack on the internet!!!
  • Do NOT gossip about them 
  • Do NOT make fun of the person/ try to joke about it
  • Do NOT try to approach them without asking permission
    • such as:
      • hugging them without warning
      • trying to move hair out of their face
      • trying to wipe their tears

What if none of these work?

  • Call the crisis hotline: 
      • 988 for suicide prevention/ crisis
      • 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention)
      • 211 mental health crisis hotline 
      • Go to the nearest hospital and talk about what the crisis is
      • 911
  • Note: These are mostly Pennsylvania numbers. Just googling the crisis you’re in will get you a number to text or call.


You are worth living for. It is worth it in the end to stay alive even if it is hard. Keep going! It only gets better from here!


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