Is minding your mind kind?

1 Feb , 2022 Uncategorized

I’m sure that this week’s post will not appeal to the majority of you, but hey, it’s my blog, right? The beginning of each semester, especially week’s 2 and 3 are stressful for me. The first week of class is introductions, many students add my class late, and everyone is getting their books for classes.

Weeks 2 and 3 are when everything revs up. Full lectures, quizzes, etc. And even though I’ve successfully taught for 16 years now, I still have anxiety, especially during these weeks. This has been especially true since the pandemic took us out of the classroom. On top of that, I also wasn’t on campus last fall, as I was on sabbatical. This means that I haven’t been teaching INSIDE a real classroom in almost 3 years (I get a little heart palpitation even as I type these words).

People deal with anxiety in lots of ways. Some positive, others not so much:( Today’s ARTICLE focuses on an attorney who deals with the same types of anxiety as I often do, especially early in the semester: speaking in front of people. The article focuses on mindfulness and there are some great nuggets here so I hope you’ll give it a read (or maybe two). Our ability to “test” thoughts we may be having (I’m going to fail in my presentation today, which will mean I’m a failure”) and determine if they are in fact true is key. The other nice section is the manner in which we respond to negative thoughts, fears, etc. Our tendency is to quickly react, which creates all sorts of problems. This isn’t the way it has to be, however. The extent to which we can create space in between those thoughts (I’m going to do poorly and thus I’m a failure) and how we react to them offers the opportunity to not allow anxiety to rule the moment.

Anyway, I know that most of you reading this rarely have anxiety, but it’s always a helpful reminder for me.


13 Responses

  1. Madison Hoffmann says:

    I also deal with anxiety when doing new things and speaking in front of or leading groups. I would like to say I understand what you maybe feeling, but I also recognize that everyone deals with anxiety a little differently. I really appreciate that you shared this article with us. You are one of the first professors I have had outside of my social work classes that mentioned anxiety, and I feel like this is something more professors should talk about with their classes, seeing that college can create a lot of stress and anxiety for people.

  2. Abigail Hendrix says:

    I like that the article talks about the training as a way to help people live with their anxiety and not as a perfect cure. Unlike medications, for this type of training to work the participants need to put in actual effort. The article mentioned having assignments as part of the training. While I think these assignments can be extremely beneficial I think they can also be something that turns people away from that type of training. So many people want a cure rather than an assignment, not realizing that it doesn’t work that way.

  3. Rachel Sluga says:

    I generally do not like speaking in front of a large group like a class (that is until I am confident enough for it) but I am in a speech class this semester as a required class. I have a speech today, I know I will do good in the end, but I always tend to think of the worst case scenarios. I think it is really easy to work myself up before doing just about anything.

  4. Emma Ciriacks says:

    Speaking in front of people is something that terrifies me. I am always scared I am going to say something wrong or mess up and when I overthink about these things it makes me stumble over my words and sounds very shaky. I really like the article and how it mentioned this way of helping to clear those negative thought, something I could definitely use. I feel like using the techniques mentioned in the article could not only help in public speaking but in everyday interaction between people too. I also appreciate you sharing your experiences and the article to help yourself and others who may need it.

  5. Cailey Russell says:

    I personally don’t have much anxiety. I get nervous about tests, stuff with work, or just new things, but I wouldn’t say that it is anxiety. Most professors, especially for a first-year student, seem intimidating. Personally, when professors say that they are nervous and feeling the way that you are feeling, making you seem more “human” and relatable. I never get upset when a professor is nervous and shows it while teaching. We are all human and you are teaching adults, which can be more intimidating than most jobs.

  6. Brooklynn Roszak says:

    Presenting or speaking in front of a group will always be a fear of mine. I never considered the fact that professors can get anxious either. This makes me feel better that professors, and even attorneys, share these emotions too. After reading the article and learning about the techniques, it offered me ways to deal with my social anxiety by using mindfulness which I plan on using throughout college.

  7. Annika Potter says:

    I really appreciate you sharing insight that professors get anxiety too. I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety, so even “simple” things like raising my hand to speak in class takes a lot of courage for me to do. Realizing that even people in power have true human emotions and feelings of stress and anxiety is important to notice. It helps break the potential stigma behind them, and being mindful of myself and those around me is something I will be more attentive to from now on.

  8. Logan Braasch says:

    These first two weeks of this semester, my anxiety has been glaring. As someone said above—I mostly get anxiety about work and due to working fulltime, as well as attending school fulltime—I often feel like I have a more difficult path to navigate compared to other students. I often look around in class and wonder how many of my classmates are fully rested and do not have to learn to operate on very little sleep; having no other choice (until I can get my degree and get out of entry-level social services). I can really relate to Cho in that I also want to be an attorney, however, I am fine with public speaking when and if I am talking about what I comprehend. If I am confident in my answer, I really don’t get nervous. It is more when I am talking to others that I can get nervous sometimes. I actually have had to work on eye contact over the years and believe I do have some social anxiety. If it is something I don’t have an answer for, then I have anxiety. I feel like I did not get off to a great start this semester—resulting in anxiety about keeping my grades up. I am thinking I am just acclimating to a fulltime school and fulltime work schedule and dedicate every fiber of my being to succeed this semester (hoping to make the Dean’s List). The article was related and intriguing in that the training using that Headspace app lead to a researcher in psychology at Lund University in Sweden, author Johannes Björkstrand, to describe the devolution of “fear extinction memories” to which I see the dissipation an important finding. Considering the findings, I would like to sign up for a mindfulness-based stress-reduction training like Cho did.

  9. Maggie Miller says:

    I have to agree that the first few weeks of a new semester are very nerve-racking, at least for me it always has been. My anxiety has always been a constant in my life, making me believe that I will mess up and that I will be seen as a failure. I distinctly remember one time in high school I had to go and throw a piece of paper away during class. My mind started to race. Multiple scenarios began to play in my head, the main one being that I would trip and fall in front of the entire class and be made fun of for the rest of the year. Reading this, someone may think that that is a silly way of thinking and that I should not get anxious over something as small as throwing out a piece of garbage, but I did and I still do. Speaking in front of people is a whole other kettle of fish. I had to take an intro to speech class at my community college and I remember I would practice in front of my mirror and my timing would be perfect and I was calm and collected. But when I got to the front of the class to give my speech my voice would shake I felt like the world was caving in on me. After reading the article, I hope to use some of the beneficial techniques that are talked about in my future classes in hopes that they help.

  10. Lindsay Paulus says:

    I really enjoy how you, as a professor, is able to open up about anxiety to the class. I feel that anxiety is very commonly talked about with students and what they can do to help it, but not much is said about professors. I appreciate that you were able to open our minds a bit and allow us to think about how professors can be experiencing the same things that we students feel. I also get nervous and anxious when I need to present to the class or answer a question that I don’t fully know the answer to, but it comforts me knowing that professors feel the same way. I think lots of times we assume that teachers are immune to the feelings that we commonly experience. By knowing this, I think it allows all of use to better understand each other and have a better classroom experience.

  11. Jenna Onley says:

    I also deal with anxiety and I have my whole life. When I was a kid, I would be terrified to talk in front of my classes, be on any sports team, be in choir or band because of my anxiety of being in front of people. Like the article said, my face also gets super red when I am in front of people and it makes me feel like everyone is staring at me and judging me on how anxious I am to be in front of them. I also have test anxiety which is when I get anxious about taking test. I have had this my whole life and this has made it difficult to be fully confident in myself with any type of test I take. I know that a lot of people have anxiety, which is great to know it’s not just me, but it has definitely helped to know that my mom has anxiety. So therefore I know I can always talk to her if I ever need anything.

  12. Hannah Robinson says:

    Anxiety is something I have experienced my whole life. I wouldn’t go anywhere during the day, because the thought of being around people brought so much anxiety that it was debilitating. I went to therapy for it and my therapist actually recommended meditation. Since then my anxiety hasn’t been that bad. My thought process now isn’t “what if I mess up or am too awkward?” my thought process is “embrace the awkward.” It takes a lot for teachers to teach in front of 20+ students multiple times a day. I think students sometimes forget that teachers are people too who have anxieties and can have the same anxious thoughts we do. I for sure think it needs to be discussed more, especially when it comes to student-teacher relations. I used to be so scared to ask my teacher a question because I thought they might think I was stupid and I would be annoying them. In reality, I’ve learned that teachers love the engagement and it usually leads to a deeper discussion over the topic at hand. We are all human beings who have fears and anxieties, and I think it is easy to forget.

  13. Melisa Doloir says:

    I honestly think that many people in college suffer from anxiety. And with the pandemic it got worse. It got worse for every one, not just those in college. I know quite a few people who have anxiety. I even think I have it. I as well experience it when it comes to talking infant of a lot of people. That’s why I hate doing presentations. So after reading this article I think I will try using mindfulness whenever I experience anxiety when I have to do public speaking next time. Because honestly I hate that feeling I get every time so if it has shown to work then I might as well give it a shot.

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