Last week was mental health awareness day. One of the regular things I see and hear from students is that maths stresses them out. It makes them anxious and it makes them panic. They don’t get it, they find it hard and it becomes a huge source of (unnecessary) problems.
Therefore, it seemed fitting to write a blog about this!
A lot of the work I do with students is around building their confidence up and alleviating the pressure they feel by helping them to realise that they can do maths. In this blog, I’m going to talk about the things you can do to avoid that stress / minimize it so it’s under control!
First – Stress as a general idea. Everyone knows what it means to be stressed. If you’re an adult in this world, the likelihood is you’ve been stressed more than once! Perhaps it was a deadline at work, or something at home – either way, when the pressure got too much and you’d had enough, it became stress.
Stress in small doses can be good for us – it motivates us to do something or complete something. However, regularly feeling stressed is not good for us; it’s neither healthy nor desirable and long-term stress can cause a multitude of health problems.
There are lots of things you can do to help reduce general stress. As an FYI, below are our top three tips – this list definitely isn’t exhaustive though and there’s many more!
- Exercise regularly – Exercise is hugely beneficial at reducing stress. Not only does it make us physically feel better, but it helps us mentally as well. Whether it’s a brisk walk to school/work, or a netball/football game in the evening, doing some exercise is a wonderful thing!
- Eat well – With busy lives and lots to do, it can be easy to get into the habit of eating out, stopping for some chocolate or enjoying a glass of two or wine (if you’re an adult)! However, instead of reaching for that piece of chocolate, try and swap it for a piece of fruit. Little swaps and being aware of what we eat and drink can really help.
- Talk to people – This one might sound obvious, but can be forgotten easily. Talk to friends and family and tell them what’s going on. Often a listening ear over a cup of tea can be hugely helpful – As the old saying goes a problem shared is a problem halved.
Second – Stress in Maths. This can be in a short term form – such as from an upcoming test or perhaps an end of topic term that a student feel they have to perform well in. Alternatively, it can be long term stress, such as that obtained from constantly being under pressure to perform well in maths for a child who’s always struggling.
It’s this second scenario that’s not healthy or positive. As mentioned above, a little bit of pressure can be good for us, however when it becomes too much (either in intensity or duration) then things start to go downhill.
The good news, is you can avoid some of this stress! By finding out what’s causing it, and putting measures in place to avoid it, you can try and reduce it or completely overcome it.
- Reassure your child they are good enough – A lot of pressure can come from the outside, with students feeling they have to perform at a particular level or ability. Re-assure your child they are good enough (and as long as they do their best, whatever their best is, that’s OK).
- Empower them – If a person feels in control, they immediately feel less stressed. For some students, empowering them might be getting them to explain a certain topic to a parent. For other students, empowering them might be to encourage them to create a revision timetable where they can chart their progress. This one hugely varies for each person – they key is to give them back the control when it comes to learning!
- Get them support – If a child is constantly struggling with maths, get them some extra input to help them understand the topic. Whether that’s a regular lesson with a tutor or attending an after school homework club, having some extra help can be an enormous boost. This extra time provides students with the opportunity to revisit the topic at their own speed and ask those questions they didn’t feel able to first time around.