2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Graphic by Pavni Bakhshi

Breaking the cycle of class skipping: Understanding anxiety and avoidance

By Josie Simon, November 20 2023— 

Have you ever skipped a class because of anxiety? Maybe you’ve missed so many days that you feel too embarrassed to return. If so, you are not alone. According to a recent survey, over 60 per cent of post-secondary students feel “more than average” or “tremendous” stress, and more than 40 per cent say this stress has affected their academic performance.

Avoidance is a common tactic among post-secondary students to deal with anxiety, whether that means skipping class or dropping out altogether. Unfortunately, avoidance can provide immediate relief, but in the long run, it can make things worse, provoking feelings of guilt, sadness, frustration and even embarrassment. 

The cycle of skipping class can be difficult to break. At first, you may feel justified in missing a class for various reasons, such as feeling unwell, having too much work to do, or simply not wanting to go. However, missing one class can easily spiral into a pattern of behaviour where you start skipping more and more. 

Eventually, you may find it difficult to return to class because of the embarrassment and anxiety associated with missing so many days. This vicious cycle can make it challenging to get back on track and impact your academic performance and overall success in university.

Luckily, there are several steps that you can take to overcome avoidance and improve your attendance. 

Exposure therapy is widely regarded as the most effective treatment for avoidance anxiety. It involves gradual and repeated exposure to anxiety-provoking situations in a safe and supportive environment. For students struggling to attend class, exposure therapy may include spending more time on campus, sitting in a classroom before class starts to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, and gradually increasing the time spent in class. 

Another helpful strategy is creating a routine to help build structure and accountability. This can involve setting a regular sleep schedule, establishing a designated study area, and creating a schedule for attending class and completing coursework. Developing a routine can help provide a sense of control and structure, reducing feelings of overwhelm and anxiety and making it easier to attend class regularly. 

Attending class can also be a fun and rewarding experience, especially if you have an accountability buddy who can serve as a source of motivation and support. Rewarding yourself after class, such as going out for coffee, can also be a great way to establish a positive feedback loop, making it easier to attend regularly and overcome class avoidance. 

Remember, as long as you’re still enrolled, it’s never too late to attend your classes, even if you’ve missed a lot of sessions. Attending classes can help you catch up and improve your understanding of the material. Plus, it’s great practice for future semesters.

If you need support, remember to utilize the resources available on campus. Academic advisors can assist with scheduling and academic requirements, while Student Wellness Services provides confidential counselling and psychiatric services for personal and emotional issues. Additionally, Student Accessibility Services offers accommodations for those with disabilities or medical conditions.

These resources are available to make your academic journey as successful and stress-free as possible, so take advantage of them.

This article is a part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet