In 2019, the course writing team at Teaching Channel recognized the need for a course about anxiety to help educators find ways to assist students with this mental health challenge in their classrooms and schools. No one resource distilled the essential information about anxiety into a book that would work for our graduate-level, continuing education course.
Then, I saw a promotion for a screening of the documentary, Angst, to be held at a local high school so students, educators, families, and community members could attend and learn more about anxiety. I reached out to the director of the film, the founder of IndieFlix, Scilla Andreen, and we began the collaborative process of creating a professional development course with Angst as the primary resource. The result was course 5102: Anxiety Awareness: Empowering Students with Help and Hope which quickly became a “teacher’s favorite” and one of the most popular courses in the history of our company. More than 8,000 educators have taken this course positively impacting even more students with anxiety.
Both the course and the film offer several strategies for coping with anxiety. These happen to be my favorites because anyone can use these to successfully decrease anxiety.
Strategy #1 – Distraction: As soon as you recognize anxious feelings, find a distraction. Take multiple deep breaths, listen to your favorite music, or try holding an ice cube in each hand. These strategies to shift your focus will give your amygdala a break, allow you to reboot, and jump back in when you are ready.
Strategy #2 – Grounding: This five-step exercise can be extremely helpful during periods of anxiety or panic by helping to ground you in the present. When your mind is bouncing around between various anxious thoughts, try it yourself. Then, teach the coping skill to your learners. It’s a life skill we all need for times filled with worry and anxiety. Don’t forget to post it in your classroom for future reference.
Strategy #3 – Reframing: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a tried and true method for lowering anxiety. CBT focuses on the relationship between thoughts and feelings and actions. Download our helpful worksheet for use with a student or work through an anxiety-provoking scenario yourself to get the idea.
I am confident the combination of these three strategies, our course, and Angst will provide helpful and successful coping methods for everyone in your community.