Lani Silversides, Instructor in Mathematics, presented “Performing Under Pressure” at the Tang Institute this past Friday. The presentation was created with the goal in mind of helping students deal with stress by giving them the necessary tools to do so.
In her presentation, Silversides introduced the audience to two main tactics in controlling stress: the “Triple A” plan and the “PRE-performance” three-step plan. Silversides first discussed the “PRE-performance” plan and its three main components: “Preparation,” studying; “Repetition,” the visualization of the performance itself; and “Empowered statement,” a positive self-talk. In an email to The Phillipian, Silversides described her message as tying the three together as a package.
“You can not go into a test with a ‘you got this’ statement, and not having prepared or studied, and expect it’s going to go great. And, studying all night long and going into the test with an “I’m going to fail this” attitude is equally unhelpful. So it’s all three… [doing] the preparation, [visualizing] how you want it to go, and [going] in with a positive attitude,” wrote Silversides.
The “Triple A” plan consisted of three steps: Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Silversides defined awareness as setting a plan for oneself if stressful situations come about. Acceptance is understanding that stress is natural and unavoidable. The action was described as setting an action to help us ‘reset’ our mindset if stress is encountered.
Attendees of the presentation reflected upon the idea of accepting that stress is natural within the Andover community. Charlotte Whitehurst ’22 explained her perspective on the trouble Andover students have accepting the stresses around them.
“We definitely perceive obstacles as something that shouldn’t happen, [and] as such a negative thing. We struggle to accept the fact that things aren’t always meant to go to our advantage, and we get stressed when that happens,” said Whitehurst.
Whitehurst continued, “I think it’s hard to detach ourselves from stress, because it’s an environment where we’re very close to our peers, and everyone’s talking lots about their stress and workload and what you’re working about. When you hear that, it’s hard to not ask ourselves, ‘Shouldn’t I be stressed, too?’ This stress just kind of mounts to a point where it’s not healthy.”
This perspective was supported by Silversides, who claimed that her strategies were geared to help students manage the stresses they have in their daily lives.
Silversides wrote, “Rather than ignoring stress, we want to know that we’re going to have stress… The point is, we’re not trying to get rid of it, and sometimes when we try to check it really well, it just makes it bigger… The purpose of my work and the presentation was not actually about reducing stress or how much stress there is at Andover… The purpose is to teach people that this is normal, and there are tools and something they can do about it.”