It is incredibly common for new students in Masters level programs to become anxious when entering their program for the first time, and when they begin taking their first graduate level course; and I am no exception. Throughout my participation in the course (Psych 6104), I was able to identify that my anxiety was perpetuated for several reasons, including: perfectionism, "fight or flight" response- and my tendency towards "flight", if I am anxious I may not do well (tendency to "save face", and fear of the unknown. Identifying the factors which contributed to my anxiety, became a crucial step in creating a plan to address and reduce my anxiety in both an effective and adaptive manner. Anxiety is defined as a mood or psychological state which is characterized by worry, uneasiness or dread, which is accompanied by physical symptomology in response to a person, or situation which is perceived to be dangerous. Anxiety can be a response to a real, imagined, or exaggerated threat (American Psychiatric Association, 2003). School, and more specifically, academics have been cited as one of the leading causes of anxiety among young-adults in North America (Spielberger, 2013), which I have definitely experienced over the past ten weeks. .
On May 4th, 2015, I embarked on a journey of learning, professional development, and self-study, as I began my first graduate level course (The Biopsychosocial Approach to Counselling in the Masters of Counselling Psychology program at Yorkville University), and returned to academia after a several-year absence. During the first week of the course it became evident that many of the students in the course were feeling some level of anxiety, and by week three, I, along with my classmates began actively engaging in an independent self-study with the goal of reducing my anxiety through the implementation of various techniques including: advance planning of tasks (utilizing a paper planner), setting deadlines for myself, advance preparation for the week ahead, and engaging in a creative process (outlet) of decorating my planner, all of which I would closely monitor and track for the seven weeks to follow.