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The many faces of anxiety

Anxiety can look different from person to person and from one situation to another.

Milo, Jess and Maria are Grade 6 students in the same class. They are anticipating an upcoming math test.

Milo copes by over-preparing—skipping after-school activities to study and staying up until midnight every night to ensure that he gets a good mark. He goes over and over his class notes and takes multiple online quizzes. When he does go to bed, he lies awake, worrying about math and what he might forget on test day. He is so tired that he struggles to focus and study effectively, which adds to his anxiety about the upcoming test. In the end, Milo gets a near-perfect mark on the test but argues with the teacher about the few marks that he lost. He feels frustrated with his mark and with himself.

Jess acts as though there is no test. She fills her spare time socializing with friends and volunteering to help organize a school fundraising event. She leaves her math books at school and assures her parents that she has no homework. Complaining of a stomach ache, she misses a couple of math classes to lie down in the nurse’s room. On the night before the test, she goes to bed early, telling her parents she’s not feeling well; in the morning, she is too sick to go to school. When she has a chance to take a make-up test at lunch the next day, she goes to a volunteer meeting instead.

Maria studies for the test for an hour or two every day for a week. Although she prepares well and paces herself as she studies, she worries that she will fail. Maria has a long history of shutting down during tests and presentations due to worry. On the day of the test, she has a headache in the morning but makes it to school. When the teacher hands out the test, Maria freezes and is unable to complete the questions. Her teacher notices and suggests that Maria take the test outside the classroom. She goes to a separate setting and finishes the test. However, her anxiety affects her final mark.

Milo studyingMilo copes by over-preparing skipping after-school activities to study and staying up until midnight every night to ensure that he gets a good mark. He goes over and over his class notes and takes multiple online quizzes. When he does go to bed, he lies awake, worrying about math and what he might forget on test day. He is so tired that he struggles to focus and study effectively, which adds to his anxiety about the upcoming test. In the end, Milo gets a near-perfect mark on the test but argues with the teacher about the few marks that he lost. He feels frustrated with his mark and with himself.

Jess acts as though there is no test. She fills her spare time socializing with friends and volunteering to help organize a school fundraising event. She leaves her math books at school and assures her parents that she has no homework. Complaining of a stomach ache, she misses a couple of math classes to lie down in the nurse’s room. On the night before the test, she goes to bed early, telling her parents she’s not feeling well; in the morning, she is too sick to go to school. When she has a chance to take a make-up test at lunch the next day, she goes to a volunteer meeting instead.

Maria studies for the test for an hour or two every day for a week. Although she prepares well and paces herself as she studies, she worries that she will fail. Maria has a long history of shutting down during tests and presentations due to worry. On the day of the test, she has a headache in the morning but makes it to school. When the teacher hands out the test, Maria freezes and is unable to complete the questions. Her teacher notices and suggests that Maria take the test outside the classroom. She goes to a separate setting and finishes the test. However, her anxiety affects her final mark.

Milo copes by over-preparing—skipping after-school activities to study and staying up until midnight every night to ensure that he gets a good mark. He goes over and over his class notes and takes multiple online quizzes. When he does go to bed, he lies awake, worrying about math and what he might forget on test day. He is so tired that he struggles to focus and study effectively, which adds to his anxiety about the upcoming test. In the end, Milo gets a near-perfect mark on the test but argues with the

Jess acts as though there is no test. She fills her spare time socializing with friends and volunteering to help organize a school fundraising event. She leaves her math books at school and assures her parents that she has no homework. Complaining of a stomach ache, she misses a couple of math classes to lie down in the nurse’s room. On the night before the test, she goes to bed early, telling her parents she’s not feeling well; in the morning, she is too sick to go to school. When she has a chance to take a make-up test at lunch the next day, she goes to a volunteer meeting instead.

Maria studies for the test for an hour or two every day for a week. Although she prepares well and paces herself as she studies, she worries that she will fail. Maria has a long history of shutting down during tests and presentations due to worry. On the day of the test, she has a headache in the morning but makes it to school. When the teacher hands out the test, Maria freezes and is unable to complete the questions. Her teacher notices and suggests that Maria take the test outside the classroom. She goes to a separate setting and finishes the test. However, her anxiety affects her

Anxiety about taking the test affected these students’ behaviour in very different ways. While Milo over-prepared, Jess avoided it altogether and Maria shut down. These examples illustrate the personal nature of anxiety and the different ways we try to protect ourselves when we feel threatened.

Reflection

When do you feel anxious? How does it impact your behaviour? Record your response using Take Notes or another format of your choice.

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