Understanding Anxiety and Those Who Suffer With It In the American Education System

Jazlynn Schwartzman-Crawford


March 9, 2022

Being born in a society where there's a major stigma and misunderstanding around mental health can be the three D's: difficult, damaging, and draining. It can be hard to exist, especially when the overbearing lack of emotion from society and its forces can cause even more of a mental strain. Firstly, it's important to know that there are those who hear you, see you, sympathize with you, and strive to understand you.

Anxiety in itself can be utterly exhausting in our day-to-day lives. It can affect our focus, memory, processing, functioning, and reactions. To help you visualize, it feels like a ton of bricks being piled on top of us making it hard to shake them off. Anxiety can be in different forms such as anxiety attacks, panic attacks, social anxiety, PTSD, OCD, fear of abandonment, procrastination, and separation anxiety. Understanding the basis of anxiety itself, fear, can lead you to be more educated and understanding of those who suffer from any anxiety-provoking disorder or thought. As my personal therapist always tells me, and is also beneficial for many and a part of our body's everyday process: breathing. Taking deep long breaths, holding them in, and releasing them can help ease and alleviate the anxiousness you feel. I will talk more about this later in the post.

The feelings of anxiousness can begin early in the morning, even at times of awakening. It's important to gently wake yourself with a calm alarm, and allow yourself to process waking up to the next day. You can meditate or even listen to affirmations. It's important not to simply sit in bed giving your brain the opportunity to overthink and produce more anxiety. You may experience morning anxiety about that meeting coming up or that presentation you have to do, or even having anxiety about going into work, school, the grocery store, or the gym. These are all common human emotions, and any person may experience these anxieties on any level from 1 to be the least to a 10, being severe.

In American Education systems from elementary school and beyond, some may produce anxiety revolving around school. The cause can vary depending on the person and their personal situation. Social anxiety is one of them that is very prominent. It can be extremely nerve-racking to be automatically expected to socialize with your peers. Many may have difficulty with the initiation aspect of social anxiety, but if someone else initiates conversation their anxiety will most likely fade. Another anxiety provoking situation is group or pair assignments. Teachers often lose patience or become frustrated with pupils for not communicating or interacting with their partners. What they fail to realize is this is the generation of having anxiety. The American system does set us up to reduce our anxiety, and being in the society we're in where people are prone to judge others, adds to the difficulty. The action of judging others is a human behavior that is often unavoidable and intrusive.

I myself personally experience anxiety in school. For years teachers would randomly call on me and I would be very caught off guard and my heart would start racing and I'd shut down. Thankfully, I've grown from the shutting down, but the simple main reason I've never raised my hand to participate was the fear of being wrong and judged by my peers. Most teachers understand this, but what they tend to not understand is their reassurance isn't always helpful. However, it is extremely important for teachers to care and sympathize as well as motivate the student to the point of wanting to participate. Any good teacher will positively push their students to participate. For some, class discussions about a topic can help those with anxiety to have the courage to chime in, as everyone's in a raw state of the unknown. It's everyone's thoughts vs themselves, this creates an inclusive environment. I can go on and on talking about the different nerve-racking situations students experience in schools, but the importance of this all is to understand anxiety, and understand those who suffer from it. I highly encourage you to form connections with your school counselors, therapists, psychologists, or any type of in-school support that is offered. I know some may be iffy and not trust people in these positions in a school setting but I promise you it is worth it. To have a mutual understanding, ask them what their boundaries are in situations they may feel the need to contact a parent.

Overall, ways to alleviate anxiety in school is to:

Understanding Anxiety and Those Who Suffer With It In the American Education System

1) Wake up gently, listen to affirmations or meditate

2) Practice breathing exercises

3) Reprogram your mindset, create positive thinking

4) Constant reassurance and self-love

5) Take a step out to a safe place to reboot

6) Get enough sleep - highly important to reduce any mental stressor that may be present

7) Try to distract your thoughts

8) Acknowledge what you're feeling, allow it in, but don't sit on it, view it and understand it

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With immense gratitude, the Promly Team.

Jazlynn Schwartzman-Crawford

Jazlynn Chava Schwartzman-Crawford (She/They), attends Montclair High School in New Jersey as a senior. They are multiracial and fully express their proudness for them all, and they are also apart of the LGBTQIA+ Community. They are on the trans spectrum and identify as Bigender. They love to have a good time with friends, enjoy time to themself, road bike and go for a drive while listening to incredible music. They are a musician themself, and they primarily play the Alto Saxophone but are exposed to the Soprano Saxophone, Piano, Bass Guitar, and percussion instruments.