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Tricks for Coping with CLASS Training Anxiety

23 Jan 2017 by Tracy Jones

I, like so many others, suffer from anxiety. When I first started training full time for Teachstone, the anxiety I suffered the day before CLASS training was almost debilitating. After nearly two years of full-time training, I still have pre-training anxiety, but I’ve learned a few tricks to help me cope. Maybe they’ll help you too.

I talk to myself all the time.

It’s almost like an endless loop of affirmative phrases going through my head. “You can do this!” “You know this material like the back of your hand!" “Everything will be okay.” “Breathe and then breathe some more.” “You got this!” “You don’t have to know everything.” This positive self-affirmation takes the place of those negative thoughts that creep up and increase my anxiety like nobody’s business. If you are thinking these positive phrases, you don’t have time to worry about all the “what ifs.” And believe me, someone that suffers from anxiety can come up with about a zillion “what if” thoughts.

I establish routines for all steps of my training.

I pack, set up, and break down my materials in the same order every time. I arrive at least an hour prior to each training so I can set up at my own pace and try to fix any technical problems that might happen (malfunctioning speakers, misbehaving projectors ... you know what I’m talking about). Even when I leave the training I try to follow a common routine: packing my car, going straight to my hotel to relax and reflect on the day, then going to dinner.

I own up to my anxiety.

It’s okay to let your participants know that you are a little nervous. Guess what? So are they. And most of them think you are so brave to be a trainer. Sharing the fact that you are nervous can help you turn awkward moments into little jokes. When a question from a participant rattles you, just remember you are not before a firing squad. Take a sip of water, nod your head, and count to ten as you pace. Your participants will think you are a deep intellectual instead of the quivering mass of jello that you might feel like. If you can’t find the answer to the question just say, “That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find someone who does and get back with you on that.” Then be sure to follow through.

I acknowledge that anxiety is going to happen.

This is perhaps the most important lesson I have learned. It’s natural for me to be anxious prior to any training I do, even when I have done everything I can to prepare. But I have also discovered that once I start the training, almost all of that anxiety diminishes. For many of us, anxiety is a part of our everyday life—so let’s own it and develop coping strategies to manage it.

If you have found some tips to help you quell your pre-training anxiety please feel free to share them with your fellow trainers. Now take a deep breath and tell yourself, “I got this!”

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