Math Anxiety – Manage and Befriend It

Why anxiety is a feature and not a bug

Math Anxiety is real, but is it not a disease.

Anxiety is apprehension about the unsure future. It is seeing that there is a possibility of possibilities.

There is an excellent article (titled, Author Talks: Make anxiety your ally) and series of short videos by Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary here.

Here are some of the points from the videos.

Myths: It is a disease (and therefore debilitating). Therefore, we should try to destroy it.  However, we can not escape (or destroy) anxiety. In fact, attempting to do so can make it worse. Anxiety if a malfunction. This is false. It’s doing its work for us. It can be turned to a positive.

Healthy mindset about anxiety: 1. Can help us prepare (for the best). 2. It is information. We are in it to win it. Smoke alarm mentality/metaphor. 3. Helps us navigate uncertainty.

Learning how to manage anxiety and leverage it’s helpfulness has been shown to have positive effects.

Anxiety helps us and puts us in a position to succeed. But we need to see anxiety that way (in a positive light). Anxiety can make us more reward focused. Social interaction is heightened. Talking about it helps – out-sourcing our anxiety.

What do we do? (1) Anxiety is information and we need to listen to it. (2) Some of the information may be unhelpful, and we need to scale it back and focus on other things. (3) Hitch the anxiety to purpose, to something that matters. It could be a small purpose.

Mental health is health. We need to provide for and take steps for good mental health (for ourselves and others).