Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Managing Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the toughest things to deal with on the first day, but it is something you can manage. While you probably won’t feel completely relaxed when you enter the classroom for the first time, there are a few things you can do to make it less stressful.

Be Prepared

At one time or another almost every TF has had the same nightmare: the one where you imagine yourself in front of the class without any idea what to do or say. Of all the ways to help control anxiety, the most important is preparation. Chances are you’ll never completely eliminate your first-day anxiety, but if you’ve thought about most of the issues discussed above you should be able to walk into the first class a lot cooler and a lot calmer. 

Waiting to Inhale

It may seem cruel and unusual to point out the importance of your basic, unconscious bodily functions. But breathing is crucial when it comes to managing anxiety, and it’s worth remembering that when you’re in front of the class. Take the time to breathe. One of the most common reactions to a difficult situation is to speak more quickly, taking shorter breaths and making what could be a minor problem into a minor catastrophe. If you begin to panic, can’t remember what to do next, or just don’t think things are going well, take a second or two for a nice, deep breath. A little oxygen to the brain will work wonders.