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6 Ways to Calm Your Mind When Dealing With Learning Anxiety

By Alicia Beharry
Published on April 1, 2021

Our emotional state can definitely have an impact on our learning abilities and affect how we are receptive to information. Anxiety about an upcoming project or exam is normal, but when that stress builds up too much, it can impede our ability to absorb, process, and store new information.

Studies have shown that when we are under stress, our brains simply stop forming new connections. This occurs because anxiety and stress activate our body’s fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline levels rise, heart rate and breathing may speed up, blood diverts to the limbs, and body temperature typically increases. If this happens while you are trying to focus, your brain will block access to higher processing and it will be very difficult to retain new information.

If you find yourself dealing with anxiety and stress, and is it interfering with your learning, here are a few tips to help you manage your learning anxiety.   

1) Identify the source of your anxiety and stress

It is important to figure out the underlying cause so you can deal with the problem head-on. If you can’t seem to pinpoint the source of your anxiety, maybe start keeping a daily journal and write down the events of your day, your thoughts and how you feel about them.

A daily journal will be useful in helping you avoid specific things that trigger your anxiety and identifying unhealthy patterns. Whether it may be unrealistic expectations, lack of sleep, or too much caffeine. 

2) Try mindfulness training

Mindfulness is really about being aware of our thoughts and emotions and paying attention to them. Research has shown that mindfulness training can help reduce anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness training can be particularly useful in providing support for individuals who are at risk of developing mental health problems and aiding them to develop preventative coping strategies. 

3) Prioritize your physical health

Our minds and bodies are connected so making an effort to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep can make a big difference to your state of mind. Being physically active regularly has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Research has also shown that particular dietary choices can relieve anxiety. Carbohydrates such as legumes, pasta, whole wheat bread and starchy vegetables are metabolised more slowly, which reduce feelings of anxiety caused by dips in your blood sugar level. 

4) Emphasize positive self-talk

We all engage in self-talk whether we realise it or not. Focusing our inner monologue and becoming more aware of how we talk to ourselves can have a positive impact on our state of mind.

Studies have shown that destructive self-talk causes us to question ourselves, while on the other hand, positive self-talk can actually boost our productivity. In the event that something does not go as planned, do not let your first reaction be to scold yourself with thoughts such as “How could I be so stupid?” Try to focus on more positive or constructive thoughts instead, like “Even though it didn’t go as planned, I am glad i tried.”

5) Seek support

Adequate social support is a great way to cope with major life stresses. If a particular course is causing you anxiety, do not hesitate to approach your managers or teachers to ask for extra support.

Always keep in touch with your loved ones back home, if you are studying in another city or away, it is also a good idea to allocate time to networking and socializing in your new location. 

6) Organize and plan

Get properly organized by breaking your coursework into smaller chunks and setting personal goals and deadlines. This is a good way to help manage feelings of anxiety that are related to learning.

Feelings of anxiety are often caused by a feeling of powerlessness, by getting properly organized you can help eliminate that feeling and help yourself to regain a sense of control. With everything organized, you will feel calmer about what you need to get done.

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