How Physical resumption could trigger anxiety attacks

By Okpor Elishama

After months of limited physical and social interactions and a COVID lockdown, diving right back into interacting with multiple people at the same time could be very difficult for students with anxiety. Anxiety disorder is often ridiculed, viewed as an exaggeration of feelings by many people, and doesn't get as much publicity certain other mental disorders have.

Although anxiety is a regular experience for humans, having an anxiety disorder isn't quite the same as being anxious about examination results. Many students have this disorder but fail to realize that this is the case. Some pretend it's the normal way to feel while some others refrain from mentioning it so as to avoid ridicule from peers.

It is highly probable that students with this condition would not be happy about the news of physical resumption as opposed to the previous online schooling with its’ possibilities of less and less physical interaction. What is often brushed away as not so important could heavily influence how students interact with one another and how they perform academically.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. Differing from the regular feelings of anxiety every human experiences once in a while, it can anxiety which every human feels once in a while, Anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available.


According to the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. Anxiety disorders on the contrary, are excessive and could hinder a person’s daily activities with random panic and anxiety attacks. Anxiety could be triggered by many factors, one of which social interactions could me major for certain folks.

Types of Anxiety Disorder

There are different types of anxiety disorder; Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia/Phobia, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, e.t.c. with different triggers specific to the type of disorder a person has and the individual as well.


The most common types of anxiety disorder are; Specific Phobia and Social Anxiety Disorder.


Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia, is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety.

Social Anxiety and Student life

Most students suffer from social anxiety; a type that prompts them to believe that they would be embarrassed, humiliated, judged or be worried that they might be in the wrong or might offend someone.


Social Anxiety does not only hinder the social lives of students, but could affect them academically as well. Many students with social anxiety cannot ask questions in class due to the irrational fear of being judged. Some cannot walk up to their course mates to ask for notes because they are worried about being humiliated. Many students with Social Anxiety cannot stand a crowd, as this could trigger anxiety attacks. Being a student with anxiety means having to deal with anxiety attacks when a lecturer asks you a question, the inability to properly converse with other students or make friends, dealing with overthinking, overanalyzing and being overly self-conscious about yourself. Social Anxiety can affect one's self esteem and reduce the ability of a person to interact with other people.


The majority of students are excited about physical resumption for many reason; freedom from house chores, catching up with friends and school activities but the case is different for a student with social anxiety. Physical resumption means avoiding other people, refusing to participate in school activities, worrisome physical symptoms such as sweating and stammering and many more. A never-ending cycle of panic attacks and consistent absenteeism.


Social Anxiety could also lead to poor grades as many students with social anxiety tend to skip class often. They may also refuse to speak up or ask questions in class, even when they do not understand. The fear of failing a course could also affect their reading patterns and could trigger more panic attacks. This cycle of panic attacks and anxiety is triggered by social interactions or the thought of having to interact with many people and for them, is not necessarily the best feeling in the world.

Dealing with Social Anxiety as a Student

Unless you'd prefer to be home-schooled - which is usually the case for many students with Social Anxiety - knowing how to deal with your Anxiety in order to get good grades or make more friends is essential in student life.


People with Social Anxiety who would like to get over their anxiety often go for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy or Social skills training, but that costs money which is a scarce resource for most students. So here are three ways you can deal with your anxiety when school resumes;


  1. Writing daily affirmations: This is not a general rule, but having daily affirmations or reminders could help you deal with your anxiety. Writing notes to remind yourself that no one will laugh if you ask that question, you won't offend anyone if you say what you want to, if you stammer no one will laugh and so on. Putting them down on a notebook, a jotter or your phone could help you feel at ease and more relaxed and help you deal with social anxiety in school.
  2. Have a friend/support group: Social Anxiety worsens when you're facing the world alone so having a good support group or system could help get you through the semester. You don't have to have a lot of friends, you just need that one person who could help you calm down when you need to, remind you to breathe when you need to and relax when you should. Having a good form of support could help reduce anxiety attacks.
  3. Know your triggers and avoid them: People with social anxiety could have specific triggers which could lead to a panic attack. Knowing what these triggers are, letting the people around you know what these triggers are and avoiding them like a plague could help you deal with your anxiety and could help you survive the semester.



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