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Nine Ways to Reduce Math Anxiety

1. Learn stress management and relaxation techniques

Techniques such as deep breathing and meditation that help you to relax in any stressful situation can also be helpful when dealing with the nervousness and tension that affect students with math anxiety.

2. Combat negative thinking

Lack of confidence can be a major impediment for students with math anxiety.  Replace those negative thoughts (“I can’t do this”, “I’ve never been good at math”, “I won’t finish in time”) with confidence- building affirmations (“I know this”, “I’m prepared”, “I can do this”).

3. Visualize yourself succeeding

Athletes use the technique of “visualization” to prepare for major competitions. Imagine yourself being relaxed doing math and during a test and confidently solving the problems.

4. Do the easier problems first

Build up your confidence by first doing those problems in an assignment or on a test that you “know” best. It will help you relax when you tackle the “harder” stuff.

5. Channel your stress into something else

Free up your mind by relieving some of your physical responses to stress. Get up and run around the hall for a minute before the test or squeeze a stress ball like crazy during the test.

6. Start preparing early

If you try to “cram” the material quickly, you are likely to forget it quickly too.   If you practice the material over a period of time, you will have a better understanding of it and are less likely to forget it when under stress.

7. Take care of yourself

Although it’s not easy when you’re in school, eating and sleeping well helps your body and mind function to their fullest potential.

8. Try to understand the why of math concepts rather than memorizing

The first thing to go when you are under stress is your short-term memory.  This is one reason it is so important to understand that math is not just a set of rules that you have to memorize but that each concept builds on what came before.  If you understand the reason behind the rules, you will remember the concepts better and be able to apply them in many different types of problems (not just ones you’ve seen before).

9. Reward yourself for your hard work

After completing the difficult assignment or and exam, it’s time to give yourself a break.  Do something you enjoy like watch a movie, take a walk, or hang out with your friends!