Feelings of anxiety can be common within the classroom setting and present in many different ways. You may find using the Rhithm App to be a helpful tool in supporting students who report feeling anxious. Keep reading below to learn how.
The Rhithm check-in and anxiety
Feelings of anxiety can arise for a variety of reasons, such as transitions to a new school year or classroom, peer or social conflict, changes within the home or school environment, experiencing pressure to academically succeed, or even lack of sleep and nutrition. In fact, our data shows that the start of a new school year is when students most commonly report feeling anxious.
The image above shows the deviation % of how much students have historically selected "Anxious".
One way to track when feelings of anxiety may rise for your students is by using the Rhithm Essential or Simplified Check-In to Get Into Rhithm. By Getting into Rhithm, you and your student can start to get a foundational understanding of how they may feel from week to week and track when patterns or changes occur. In addition to helping monitor student mood and functioning, the Rhithm Essential and Simplified Check-Ins provide in-the-moment regulation tools for students to engage in, based upon the responses to their check-in.
For example, in the Rhithm Essential Check-In, a student may report either directly feeling anxious or select responses that may traditionally align with feelings of anxiety, such as identifying their thoughts as “racing”. They will then receive a regulating video (such as “Focus Ball Breathing”) to help them calm their nervous system. Other common anxiety-based responses in the Rhithm Essential or Simplified Check-In could be “sick”, “tried”, “hyper”, “distracted”, or even socially “meh” or “no friends”, as experiencing anxiety can be different for everyone.
Getting into Rhithm and consistently engaging in a Rhithm Check-in can have lasting impacts on students’ regulation ability and their readiness to learn through the power of habit formation. You can check out the article The Neuroscience Behind Getting Into Rhithm, view our Science of Rhithm videos or read about Tempo Scores & Readiness to Learn to learn more about how.
Additional Rhithm resources
In addition to the strategies and lessons provided after the Rhithm Essential Check-In, there are other Rhithm resources that you may find to be helpful in supporting your students with anxiety.
The Rhithm Toolkit is where you or students can search for additional regulating or lesson videos to support a student’s needs, or maybe find a favorite video that was seen after the check-in. By using the filtering tools and search feature, finding short and helpful videos to support students feeling anxious can take just seconds, such as the video “Reframe Your Brain: Assuming the Worst”, "Anxious", "Letting Go of Perfect", or “Expanding Breath”. More about the Rhithm Toolkit can be found here: The Rhithm Toolkit
Rhithm Insights is where you can more thoroughly view data trends and patterns for a variety of information for specific students, classrooms, schools, and even districts, such as number of check-ins or specific check-in responses (such as reporting feeling “Anxious”.) More information on Rhithm Insights can be found here: Rhithm Insights Overview
Teacher Tips and Assessments
If your school is subscribed to the Hero package, you will have access to additional videos, “Teacher Tips”, that provide specific interventions that may be helpful for supporting students who feel anxious. Some of these interventions include: creating a calming corner, coaching around deep breathing, and using guided imagery. Within this package you can also access the custom assessments feature, allowing you to create your own questionnaire when most fitting for your classroom. For example, you could create a questionnaire around test or performance anxiety to give before tests and exams, to track if or how these feelings change throughout the year.
The Hero and Pro packages have the ability to use pre-built custom assessments which can further evaluate students’ feelings and functioning and can further increase your insight into when students feel anxious, what anxiety may look like for them, and identify areas to better support them.
Often our bodies will mirror and regulate based on those around us. So, you might notice that being around a student who is experiencing anxiety might stir up some of your own feelings of anxiety or stress. It’s ok for this to happen; we are all human. And, finding ways to support yourself when working with students feeling anxious is important. To do this, you may use the Rhithm Essential Check-In yourself to monitor how you feel and practice helpful regulation skills, such as deep breathing and mindfulness practices.
Also, never underestimate the power of healthy sleep habits and nutrition. If you are feeling more anxious or stressed one day, maybe take an opportunity to re-set. Even 1 minute of breathing can help regulate our nervous system. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, advocating for what you need or using PTO if you have it may help.
When working with students who experience anxiety it can be helpful to remember that your student may be experiencing greater mental health concerns, such as a diagnosed anxiety disorder (like Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Social Anxiety Disorder), or experiencing exposure to trauma. Additionally, some students may simply have a more anxious temperament. If you have concerns related to the amount of anxiety a student is experiencing, how long a student has been reporting feelings of anxiety, or how feelings of anxiety may be impacting their wellbeing, you can share your concerns with the student’s parent and your school’s counselor.
It can also be helpful to keep in mind that anxiety is a common emotion for students to experience at times during the day or school year, especially during times of transition or when starting something new. You can use Rhithm to support your student in managing their anxious feelings, and remind them, and maybe yourself, it’s ok to feel anxious sometimes.
Lastly, it is important to consider cultural variability when looking at how anxiety may present and the factors which may cause feelings of anxiety. For example, presenting as quiet and making little eye contact may be signs of anxiety in one culture and normative in another.
We hope you find these strategies around supporting students feeling anxious helpful. If you have any feedback or want additional tips, please do not hesitate to contact our support team to let us know!