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4 Ways to Manage Anxiety During the School Day

January 5, 2022 / by Learners Edge

Originally Posted on LearnersEdge.com by Betsy Butler on Jan. 12, 2021, and Revised on Jan. 5, 2021, for Teaching Channel use. 

Hey. How are you doing?   

Stop for just a moment and breathe.   

There’s a lot of chaos right now, and if you live with anxiety, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed for yourself and for your students. Fortunately, anxiety is treatable! Try these fast, easy, and effective ideas to manage your anxiety.  

Grade your mood (when needed, in class) 

My friend Susan models emotional vulnerability by grading her frame of mind using a low-risk and well-known scale to share her feelings. Talking about feelings reduces their power, and sharing what she felt empowered students to name their own feelings.  

It feels like I might just be a ‘C’ teacher right now. Sometimes I am an ‘A’ teacher, and sometimes I am a ‘C’ teacher. I’m sure you have ‘A’ days, and sometimes you have ‘C’ days. It’s all a part of being human. 

Do a Box Breath 

I’m one of many who used to eschew the “breathe better” advice for anxiety, but in truth, I use it now and it works. Count of 4 in, hold for 4, release for 4, hold “out” for 4. It’s just enough of a break in the day to re-calibrate, and quick enough to do it often.  

Another breathing option- when’s the last time you took a super deep breath? Take a moment to breathe deeply, and repeat until you can get your breath all the way up from your diaphragm. That will help you with the next strategy….   

Check Your Shoulders 

This has been a useful way for me to identify how my body is reacting to anxious feelings. Are your shoulders inching toward your ears? Do you feel a bit hunched up? Lengthen your neck, roll your shoulders, and get them to a resting and calm place away from your ears. Breathe while you are doing so.    

Distract Your Brain 

Try these simple ways to distract your brain away from building anxiety.   

  • Call out a quick stretch break for your students (this will help them, too!)  
  • Name 5 things you can be grateful for today 
  • Rub your clenched fists over your thighs, up and down 
  • Find a spot, then unfocus, focus, unfocus  
  • Do a grounding technique (this works well for students too). It takes about 30 seconds. Identify:  
    • 5 things you see  
    • 4 things you hear  
    • 3 things you smell  
    • 2 things you feel  
    • 1 thing you taste 

These strategies can be used quickly and without derailing your entire lesson, instruction, or day. Anxiety is great at throwing curveballs, but with this knowledge, you can knock it right out of the park.  


Want to learn more about managing and treating anxiety? 

Check out Course 5102: Anxiety Awareness: Empowering Students with Help and Hope, a 3-credit, graduate-level course from Learners Edge.

Topics: Teacher Wellness

Learners Edge

Written by Learners Edge

Since 2002, Learners Edge has offered continuing education graduate credit and professional development opportunities to more than 100,000 teachers from across the country.

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