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Fight, Flight, or Freeze? Recognize and remediate, then test with success. Adapted from Michael Perrin, BA, MAEd. What the heck IS anxiety?. Fight / Flight/Freeze: A response to Stressors. HELP!!!!!!!.
Adapted from Michael Perrin, BA, MAEd
A response to Stressors
The sympathetic nervous system gets the body ready for action! You need…
So here’s what happens…
Unfortunately, the fight/flight/freeze response to stressors can also impede performance:
difficulty with making decisions
reflexes on edge - hitting someone when they startle you
response is meant to be
just long enough to get you
out of danger.
Your body needs time to recover from the response.
Here is the most important step toward reducing your anxiety –
Check externally to see if what you feel is common:
Do you feel cold or hot? Are others putting on or taking off jackets or sweaters?
Is everyone else looking around like they can’t figure out what’s going on?
Do your muscles feel weak?
Is your heart racing?
Your neurotransmitters are firing off, responding to the threat of bombing this test. They’re telling your body to go into survival mode…and you need to stop them!
The good news is, they start quickly and so can be stopped quickly.
To stop your thoughts in the classroom or during a test, silently shout to yourself "Stop!" or "Stop thinking about that!"
After every shout, use a different relaxation technique at your desk.
Thought stopping works, because it interrupts the worry response before it escalates to cause high anxiety or negative emotions.
Students with high worry anxiety should practice this technique three days to one week before taking a test.
If you don’t hear that internal monologue, then try the next step . . .
Put down your test materials and do the turtle:
Time yourself – 2 or 3 minutes, no less.
Feel better? Raise up and take your test.
panicked or shut
Try one of the next
Put your feet flat on the floor.
Take side edges of your chair with your hands.
Pull up as strongly as you can while breathing in. Count to five.
Let go, breathing out and allowing your arms, legs, and middle to relax.
Do it one or two more times.
Return to your test.
Think of a real or imaginary relaxing scene. Mentally visualize this scene. Picture the scene as if you were actually there, looking through your own eyes.
Visualize your relaxing scene for one to two minutes.
Gently open your eyes, and try your test again.
Close your eyes.
Imagine the sun gently warming you.
Let your muscles relax as they absorb the warmth.
Feel your arms and legs lengthen as they warm and relax.
Feel yourself breathing slowly and evenly; every muscle is relaxing, lengthening, under the warmth of the sun.
When ready, open your eyes and return to your test.
Anxiety is a normal response to what seems dangerous.
Fight/flight/freeze just doesn’t work so well for testing.
Learn to recognize your own symptoms of anxiety.
Practice strategies to interrupt your survival response and calm your body down.
Mr. Perrin reports that his student scores increased nearly 20% on major tests after he started teaching anxiety reduction as part of his general curriculum.