I woke up one day and thought I wonder how many times in a day I feel anxious. I wanted to record all my anxieties across the day to find if there was a pattern for the day. So I spent the whole day writing moments when I was anxious (to varying degrees of course). So here goes:
I woke up and was so tired I could barely function it took double the amount of time to get ready and therefore anxiety number one hit. Not too bad my heart beat was fine just my thoughts started to race faster by a bit because I was worried about running late so not too bad.
I was in the car on my way to work and I saw a bunch of students on the street walking towards the school. I got out the car, anxiety number two! I don’t like seeing the kids outside of school. I don’t know how to react to them because the environment is so different I don’t have the backing of other staff is someone misbehaves, I don’t know whether to smile, say hi, or pretend I don’t see them. It sends my mind into overdrive so I just get my phone out and keep walking.
Now in the school building I have to walk through the corridor. One of my worst places in the school for me is the corridor. It is the place where the most unstructure is. It is confined, the noise can be horrendous and behaviour of students is unpredictable and goes by so fast by the time I process it they’re out of sight. Though it is not only the students, it can be the teachers too. I see a member of staff who is very high ranking in the school I’m a low ranking member of staff so my first thought is do I say hi or smile or what? Anxiety number 3! Just then I notice she’s walking towards me we have to get through the door do I let her go first? Is it easier for me to go first? When do I need to stop walking. There needs to be enough space is there enough space? Anxiety number 4 strikes at quite a high level enough for me to hold my breath until this interaction was over which was in seconds.
I get to the staff room another difficult place. A place full of people, different people which means different social rules, expectations another trigger for, you guessed it anxiety number 5. I walk to my normal seat in the staff room I sit there everyday it is my seat I look and see other people who are in my department do I say hi to be polite or just look away. I looked away. Anxiety number 6 (very tiny because I do that almost everyday). Today I’m particular tired so this doesn’t help with my processing and I feel like my eyes are on fire. So I’m sitting there with my coat and earmuffs still on because it is freezing outside and a colleague who I speak to on occasions comes and sits next to me. But doesn’t say a thing. Now this sends my mind into overdrive to figure out what I should do. I think should I say hello well no because why didn’t she say hello? Did I look like I didn’t want anyone to say hello to me was that it? But I mean come on that’s a bit weird. By the time I’ve thought that through it seems weird to suddenly say hello. Then she leaves anyway. Why sit next to someone whenever there are loads of seats if you don’t want to talk. Anxiety number 7 and quite a long and extended one. Not a great start to the day but I’m still optimistic…ish. Another colleague who I know much better and have spent time with outside of school comes to sit down. Though I’m so tired I don’t feel the energy to say hello it’s like my mouth is stuck it won’t move then I feel bad for not saying hello then the start to think why didn’t she say hello. Anxiety number 8. My boss walks in to do a morning briefing this is something new so I’m already on edge plus everything else that has happened. Others come to sit next to me. One person sits really close to me and I begin to feel trapped. I keep trying to move just a little bit but she keeps moving closer. My heart is beginning to beat faster. Anxiety number 9! My boss makes a comment about my earmuffs still being on “got the right idea blocking out the noise” then I get more anxious because I realise it’s rude to still have my earmuffs on but she hasn’t started speaking and she only sat down I had like not time to react was this a subtle way of telling me to take them off was this just a regular comment. Anxiety number 10! Really beginning to struggle.
Boss finished talking about to go to lessons trying to get out of staff room but both sides were blocked. My mouth still wasn’t moving and I felt like I had no breath to speak wanted to say excuse me. Turned around after 5 seconds of trying to get past. Finally went a different direction and with my head down said in a mousey voice “excuse me” to my work mates. Anxiety number 11! Had to rush quickly using my peripheral vision to get out of there.
Walking down the corridor to my first lesson. I always go to the bathroom to avoid the busy periods between lessons though this means I sometimes am late to lessons and this creates anxiety. Anxiety number 12 mini.
It’s now break time and yes you guessed it I had to go down the corridor again. This time there was no avoiding students because they are everywhere. Holding my breath for the majority of the journey shoulders tense head looking at the ground trying to block out the students swearing or pushing because I just loose my voice and can’t react like I see it but my brain doesn’t tell me until later ‘by the way you should have done something’. Anxiety number 13!
In the staff room at break and the noise is just so loud. I then start to think about period 4. The student I work with isn’t in and I have to ask my boss for admin tasks. I mean don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with my boss but I start to think what do I say? What if she’s on the phone? I hate disturbing her. Anxiety number 14. After that I began thinking about the next lesson and trying to remember if it was this lesson or next week we were going to be in a different room couldn’t remember when she said. Was worrying about what should I do which room should I go to? Anxiety number 15! Trying to get out of the staff room not sure which way to leave. Anxiety number 16!
The time has come to go to the boss’ office get to the door. Anxiety number 17 but I go in my anxiety quickly calms down when I’m told what I have to do. Though I’m a little worried I won’t be able to process the instructions quick enough but I manage.
I have to do a lunch club at lunchtime at a place where I find it very hard to speak to the colleagues there. I go there speak to the manager and ask for a computer I stand there because she hasn’t said which one I could use. Mini anxiety number 18!
Later on during lunch I get some time to think. I sit in the office ano thinks about my next lesson. It’s a lesson I dread because I’m working with a teacher I don’t like. I worry he’s going to make me take the lesson which I’m not comfortable with but can’t undermine him because that’s unprofessional but at the same time he’s unprofessional. Though I’ve had the time to think about it I’m much more relaxed and prepared I know the worst case scenario and I’ve excepted it. Anxiety prevented.
I reach the end of the day and I work out that over the course of about 6 hours I’ve experienced 18 moments of anxiety. I began to look for the pattern, everything has a pattern, this is what I found out:
The moments of anxiety were triggered by environment. In the classroom I know what I need to do I have time to think and it’s all structured. It’s the unstructured moments when I think about what is going to happen. The best way to prevent anxiety is to prepare. Plan what could happen think what you are going to do and if you can’t take a deep breath let the oxygen get your brain to get it working in that time you should have been able to get the beginnings of a solution.
This is just one day and they’ll be plenty more like it but even more better. Thanks for reading hope it was interesting. Peace out!