7 Strategies To Help Support Students Struggling With Anxiety

1. The 5 Whys

For students experiencing anxiety, the experience can be frightening. This can be worsened if the student doesn’t understand the cause of their anxiety or is unable to express their feelings well. Developed by Sakichi Toyoda during the Japanese revolution, this technique involves asking the question “why” five times. Starting with a question about why the student is feeling anxious, you can then use their answer to pose the next “why” question, until you have repeated this five times.

“As a result of this technique, both you and the student should be able to gain a clearer understanding of the deeper, underlying cause of their anxiety. Once a student understands what causes their anxiety, you are then able to work together to put strategies into place to help them effectively manage their anxiety every day,” says Richard Hall, a psychology writer at Writinity and Researchpapersuk.

2. Deep Breathing

This can be one of the simplest, yet most effective stress reduction techniques for students to use. Whenever a student begins to feel anxious, teach them to take a few deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Encouraging them to count as they breathe can help them to stay focused on the exercise.

3. Positive Affirmations And Self-Talk

For many students suffering from anxiety, negative thoughts can be a big problem. Help them combat these by choosing specific and individual positive affirmations which they can repeat to themselves. Ensure that these are affirmations in which the student believes, in order to help them make long-lasting, positive changes.

4. Visualization

Another effective strategy is to ask students to visualize what they need to do to overcome a stressful situation. This can help them control negative thoughts. They can also visualize a peaceful or safe space to help them divert their attention away from the situations which are causing them anxiety.

5. Exercise

Exercise is well known for helping to reduce anxiety and stress. For students experiencing anxiety, having a physical and mental break following an activity, can help to reduce their anxiety.

“Yoga can be a really useful way of releasing tension and doing so discreetly,” explains Sondra Durst, a tutor at Draftbeyond and Last Minute Writing. “Teach your students some simple yoga movements which they can do at their desks. For example, cat-cow stretches, neck rolls, seated twists, shoulder shrugs, and even seated pigeon pose, will all work well. Whenever they start to feel stressed or anxious, they can take a short pause at their desk to recenter themselves and focus again.”

6. Distractions And Grounding

For a student experiencing anxiety, it can be useful to distract them with another activity or task. Ask them to take a note to the office for you, or give them a job to do in the classroom. Alternatively, give them a hands-on activity to complete. You can also teach students grounding exercises to help distract them from their anxiety. Exercises include counting backwards from 100 in 7s, or using the 5-4-3-2-1 sensing technique. In this exercise students count five things they see, four things they can smell, and so on.

7. Journaling

Encourage students with anxiety to keep a gratitude or positivity journal. Whenever they experience anxiety, encourage them to note down at least one thing they are grateful for, proud of, or which makes them happy. They can also read through their journal when they are feeling anxious. By focusing their attention on positive thoughts, students can prevent negative thoughts and anxiety from taking hold.


It may take some time to find which strategies work best for individual students. Yet, once these have been identified, you’ll be able to support students to develop their own toolkit for managing their anxiety in a range of situations. Remember to communicate any concerns you may have to the student’s parents as well. By working together, you’ll be able to truly support students and provide them with the tools to thrive.

Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Nursing Assignments and Gumessays.com. She has been involved in numerous projects throughout the country, including sharing educational tips and coping strategies with her readers. She regularly attends business training courses, where she enjoys keeping up-to-date with the latest developments. A mother of two children, Ashley enjoys reading and traveling with her family in her spare time.