What is math anxiety? How to overcome it?

Last Updated on October 1, 2022 by Editorial Team


Math Anxiety is the panic and nervousness that ensues some people when solving a mathematical problem. Math anxiety is related to performance anxiety and is likely to extend far outside of the classroom if not recognized and proactively managed.

People suffering from excess math anxiety may feel stress around numbers well into adulthood, negatively impacting their professional and personal lives.

But, It shouldn’t be confused with dyscalculia, which has a different pathology. To put it simply, every person with dyscalculia may develop math anxiety but every person with math anxiety may not have dyscalculia.

Math anxiety is usually seen in students when the exams are near. Excessive stress hinders the ability to manipulate questions in our minds to our benefit. Please keep in mind that math anxiety is a learned psychological response to math, which interferes with a student’s ability to perform math. It is not a reflection of a student’s true ability in math.

In Adulthood, people may struggle to do regular tasks involving numbers such as measurements, leaving a tip, maintaining monthly budget and etc.

So, what should be done?

We gathered around 7 best ways found to be quite beneficial for people in dealing with math anxiety.

Review and learn basic arithmetic principles and methods : First thing first, you got to learn the basics. The root concepts must be redeveloped. You may have to go back and relearn material. Just like learning a foreign language, the process starts at developing foundation of the subject. Then repetitive learning and practice do the rest of the work.

Practice maths through Abacus: Abacus is a manual aid to calculating that consists of beads or disks that can be moved up and down on a series of sticks or strings within a usually wooden frame. It is considered one of the best ways to develop number sense. Numbers are physically constructed and manipulated in Abacus. Practicing 10-15 minutes daily can effectively build your math calculative skills.

Abacus for dyslexia and dyscalculia treatment

Ask for help! : Don’t hesitate to talk about your issue with your parents and counselors. Hire tutors. Its never too late to seek help. Ask as many questions about the topic to make things clear. Join discussions with other students.

Read class topics early: Prepare early for the topic that your teacher will be discussing in class. You don’t have to go deep into it. Give a thorough read of the lesson. Try solving examples on your own. Don’t worry if you couldn’t, just note down the problems. Now you already have an idea where you might find trouble at. Your brain will now specifically look for when these will be discussed in class.

Introduce maths in day to day tasks: Try to learn maths with real-life applications. Ask yourself — How many cars are parked? How many spoons of sugar do you want in your tea? How many sides and corners does a kite have? Once you get a good grip on these, move to a little more complicated ones.  From cooking and accounting to traveling and managing time, math can be brought into the play everywhere. Doing this repeatedly will build your confidence in analyzing things both mathematically as well as visually.

Do yoga and meditation: Everyone is aware of yoga’s potential to our physical and mental health. Yoga is a very effective stress reduction and relaxation tool. Yoga practice draws attention towards breathing, which produces a meditative and soothing state of mind. Practicing yoga every day for about 20 minutes can seriously improve your brain capabilities.

yoga and meditation for number dyslexia dyscalculia and math anxiety

Changing the mindset towards math: Perhaps one of the most important ways that you can do better is simply by having a positive mindset towards maths. Try to make math as fun as possible. Try maths-related games and apps. Give maths quiz and compete with other players. Read about famous mathematicians and their contributions.

positive attitude towards math for dyscalculia and dyslexia

Scored low marks in the previous test? Don’t worry! Pick yourself up and try x2 harder this time. Stop underestimating yourself. Avoid negative self-talk. Set high expectations and rise to the occasion. Positive self-talk like these is effective in replacing negative thoughts, which create anxiety.

Try Different approach: Sometimes, it may take a different approach than a traditional one to solve the stubborn problem. You don’t need to replace the traditional teaching approach, but supplemental educational resources definitely help. To clarify any Math confusion, Consider other resources such as, using flashcards, journals, researching the internet, creating a study group, and/or using available tutoring on campus.

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