[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on March 14th of this year, was our #6 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2019 countdown!]
Currently, schools are being inundated with cases of anxiety in young adults. Although the dramatic increase in attention being paid to the illness has been beneficial to those suffering, the difficulty lies in the fact that everyone thinks they understand anxiety and how to overcome it.
As a public high school administrator, I lead interventions for students in poor academic standing. Although many students have logistical circumstances keeping them from being successful—homelessness, employment, learning disabilities, etc.—many of them are school avoidant because of anxiety that is, quite frankly, debilitating.
A quick look at anxiety
Anxiety is essential to human survival. It’s the basis of the fight-or-flight response that dates back to the days of our ancestors’ most primitive survival. Anxiety alerted our ancestors of danger. The emotional brain was, and still is, wired to be on high alert in case a predator was hunting our ancestors. Anxiety would tell them to flee. As a matter of fact, anxiety still tells us to flee if we perceive danger. For our ancestors, however, anxiety literally saved their lives.