Is it normal to miss school because of anxiety?

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This article will discuss if it is normal for a person with anxiety to miss school. For that, the article will explain what anxiety is, in what way it can impair a person’s life, how that can affect children, teenagers, and young adults in school years, and what are ways to treat and cope with that sort of anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the way our body reacts to a stressful situation. It can be related to a situation that is happening at the moment, or about something that is coming in the future. It can be about the first day at a new job or a risky situation a person is going through.

With that said, anxiety is a normal emotion, but at some point it can become a problem, causing many negative effects in a person’s life. When that is the case, the person can experience symptoms of anxiety frequently for more than 6 months, and it can be said that they have an anxiety disorder.

When a person has an anxiety disorder they might constantly feel afraid, and that fear can make it hard for them to do simple things, such as going to work or school or being around people.

When a person is anxious, they might feel some symptoms. The main symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Chill or hot flashes
  • Distress
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Constant worry

There are many types of anxiety. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Panic disorder 

It is when a person has a panic attack at an unexpected time, and because of that, they live in constant fear of the next attack.

Phobia 

It is the fear of a specific thing, situation, or activity.

Social anxiety disorder 

It is a fear of being in a social situation and how the person might be judged.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder 

It is an irrational fear that a person thinks they need to have a repeated behavior so something bad doesn’t happen.

Separation anxiety disorder

It is an intense fear of being away from people that mean security to them. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

It is the anxiety a person feels after a traumatic event.

Is it normal to miss school because of anxiety? 

As seen before, anxiety is something normal, but at some point, and for some people, it might be that anxiety becomes so intense that it might affect the person’s daily life.

With children, teenagers, and young adults at school age it is no different.  People of that age can find going to school a pleasurable experience, but to some of them, going to school can become overwhelming, as well as a source of worry.

When that is the case, it is possible to say they have developed school refusal anxiety. This happens in about 2 to 5% of people of school age. When that is the case, young people might not want to get up to go to school and try to avoid going.

They also get extremely worried about small matters related to their school routine. They may get sick, such as having stomach problems or headaches. Not only that, their grades go down, and they start having mood swings, getting angry, and acting out in school and even with their families. And lastly, they might withdraw from people.

When young people are asked what is causing them to worry about the school they usually say that the work is harder, and they are having trouble concentrating. School can become exhausting because they feel pressured to get good grades.

To others, the problem might be in the relationships they have in school, it could be that they don’t feel accepted, or are experiencing bullying and feel unsupported. It could also be that they have a learning disability, and the school is not supportive of it.

What are ways to help children cope with school refusal anxiety?

If a kid in your family is experiencing school refusal anxiety, it might be good to ask them what is worrying them, and through that focus on listening and finding ways you can support them.

After they tell you what is on their minds, try to work together with them in looking for solutions. It might mean getting in touch with the school or changing some routines around the house so they don’t feel so pressured.

Let the school know about what is going on so their teachers can be part of the helping process. And with that support around them, it might be a good moment to discuss what type of coping mechanism the kids might use to deal with their anxieties, such as physical activities or breathing exercises.

A change in their morning routine can be beneficial. Having their morning schedule set, in a way that they wake up and don’t need to worry about what to do, is a big relief. 

Another thing that might help them deal with their emotions is having an emotional journal, where they can write about how they feel and realize when they are becoming worried or when they start to feel overwhelmed.

It is a great idea to help them develop a space where they can put all their worries, some sort of worry box, where they can see all of it and get the notion that they are manageable. Having a soothing box can also help them to have all the strategies to calm themselves in hand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is it normal to miss school because of anxiety?

What are other ways I can help my kid with school refusal anxiety?

Parents need to validate what their children are feeling, take their worries seriously, and don’t diminish them. Try to stay calm as you hear what they have to say. Getting angry will only make them more distant.

Being in touch with the school and their teacher is necessary. This way you can identify what is triggering this behavior, and will also help the teachers to know what kind of changes need to be done. If there are days they are not going to school, keep that information, and try to understand what is the pattern behind them not going.

Be consistent with the plans you, the teacher, and your kid thought of. Don’t assume things got better quickly, and give them praise when they achieve something, even if it’s small. And if things are still hard, discuss with the school, again, what can be done to help, maybe changing to another classroom, or the way homework is given to them.

What are ways to cope with anxiety?

There are many ways a person can cope with anxiety. The first thing that can help is to keep an active life, having exercise in your life can reduce stress, and also improve your mood. 

It is also important to avoid drugs and alcohol since they can make you even more anxious. In the same way, having drinks that contain coffee can make you more agitated, as well as nicotine. 

Having, in your life, relaxation and breathing techniques can be useful for you when in crisis, and it can also help you sleep better, which is very important. They can allow you to focus on your breathing and your body, rather than the thoughts running through your head.

It is important to stick to what treatment you are in. If you are taking medication, don’t stop taking them from one moment to the next, and keep going on therapy. All of that will make it easier to identify your triggers, understand them and create strategies to deal with them. 

Learning about your triggers can also be done by keeping a journal in which you will write about how you feel. That can give you a notion of why and when you got anxious.

And try to keep a social life. Although it might be hard at times, having people around you can be a great support, as it can also be a way to distract yourself and have other thoughts in your mind rather than the ones brought by anxiety.

What can teachers do to help children deal with school refusal anxiety?

Teachers are an important part of helping teenagers with school refusal anxiety. They can get in touch with the kid’s parents if they realize something is wrong, and try to think about ways they can support the student.

They can also be more flexible with the student’s deadlines since they might have a harder time doing their activities, and when given an activity, try to put it as detailed as possible. If it is possible, try to reduce their workload as well.

It might be a good idea to help the kid learn strategies to self-soothe, like breathing exercises. Give them breaks throughout the day, and put some relaxation exercises in their schedules. It might also be helpful to them working with a colleague.

When in touch with the parents, find ways to support them in helping the kids during school activities like homework, and let them know you are making some changes to the kid’s schedule a little easier.

How can teenagers deal with anxiety?

When you are a teenager the emotions seem to be even more intense. The same goes for anxiety. So there are ways a teenager can cope with their anxiety. 

The first thing to do is to discover what relaxes you. It can be working out, breathing exercises, listening to music. Ways that you can focus on your body and your breathing and not on the racing thoughts in your head. Working out may also help you sleep better and that is extremely important to deal with anxiety. 

Spending time with people you love, friends and family can help you feel better. It can make you feel more connected, and it might be a relief to talk to people that support you. Aside from that, the fun you will have with them will give you a great sense of well-being.

It might also be good to spend time in nature, so you can focus on other experiences and can feel more peaceful and grounded. Having a more positive view of things can also make you feel a lot better.

Is anxiety genetic?

Most researches show that anxiety is usually genetic, but the environment the person lives in has a great impact on a person developing anxiety or not. But it is not clear yet how it can happen.

Conclusion 

This article explained what anxiety is, how it can affect a person’s life, and how children, teenagers, and young adults can suffer from anxiety to a point that it causes them to miss school.

Aside from that, the article explained are ways a person can treat and cope with anxiety.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.

References

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/school-refusal-when-a-child-wont-go-to-school-2018091814756

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