Dealing with Anxiety in College
It’s not uncommon for college students to experience symptoms of anxiety.
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is the top mental health concern among college students, with 41 percent reporting struggling with the disorder. Anxiety can appear different in each student.
Some students may get butterflies in their stomach before entering a classroom; others may not be able to get out of bed to go to class. Some students may not be able to concentrate during a test due to their worries; others may have a panic attack.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at dealing with anxiety in college.
Dealing with Anxiety in College
Dealing with anxiety in college can be difficult when faced with new academic responsibilities. If ignored for too long, anxiety can spark new mental health issues and have a serious impact on your mindset.
Because anxiety is so prevalent among college students, it is important to know there are ways to deal with it. There are solid actions you can take to fight anxiety and continue to live a typical college student life on campus.
Below are a few of these tips to help you deal with anxiety while in college.
Get an Anxiety Partner
You don’t have to deal with anxiety alone.
Because there are so many students experiencing anxiety on college campuses, it makes sense to reach out to a student who has had success in overcoming their anxious moments. It is sort of like the buddy system.
You can be there for them when they are feeling anxious, and they can be there for you when you struggle. This type of peer mentoring has been found to be beneficial in many college situations.
In many cases, your college campus may offer a peer-to-peer program designed to connect you with a fellow student who has been in your shoes. This allows you to speak with a student with experience handling anxiety in college.
Fight Back Against Your Anxiety
When you are anxious, your thoughts are likely telling you negative things. It may be telling you to stay in bed, don’t leave your room, or even that you are not good enough. Negative thoughts can lead some students to find negative ways to cope, like drinking or using drugs.
This will only make things worse.
You can find ways to fight back against negative thoughts by doing the opposite. If your thoughts are saying to stay in bed, then get out of bed. If they are saying to keep your anxiety a secret, then tell someone how you are feeling. Little steps like that will help you overcome anxious moments.
Use Entertainment that is Opposite of Your Feelings
Have you ever been feeling sad and then listened to every sad song on your playlist? Doing so probably allowed you to continue feeling sad. The same is true with anxiety. If you listen to music or watch movies that are anxiety-inducing, you will continue to feel that way.
Instead, watch funny movies, listen to happy music, and visit a comedy show. Laughter makes anxiety lessen.
Communicate with Professors
It is important that you tell your professors you struggle with anxiety. Having anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of and in many cases, your professors will have experienced anxiety themselves.
When you do not communicate with your professors, they may assume you are a poor student who likes to skip class. If you alert them to when you are feeling anxious, they can work with you and find ways to help you be successful in class.
They can even direct you to the right campus program to help you learn ways of overcoming anxiety.
There are many programs available for you on campus. There are even off-campus agencies who provide many services to college students.
Some services can include individual and group counseling for anxiety. Other activities can include support groups, volunteer opportunities, clubs, picnics and more. Activities hosted by sober living and mental health providers can be great for teaching you how to have fun, despite your anxiety.
And they involve many other students who struggle with anxiety also. This is a great way to meet your anxiety partner.
Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when feeling anxious. However, it is one of the best ways to relieve anxiety. During exercise your brain and gut release endorphins, which are feel-good, pain-relieving chemicals. They tell your brain everything is going to be okay so you can start to calm down.
Plus, exercise has many other physical and mental benefits. It is known to improve sleep, concentration, and attitude.
Pick the Right Place to Live
Going to college can mean living in a dorm with a complete stranger. This in itself can make some feel anxious. More students should evaluate their living situation while in college and change it so that it is the least stressful environment.
Are you rooming with a party animal that comes home at any hour, drunk and loud? If so, request a new roommate. Are you in the “party dorm” where you encounter peer pressure on a daily basis? If so, change.
Work with the housing department to discover the best living environment for you. There are usually dorms on campus devoted to providing healthy environments for students.
Anxiety can worsen when your whole focus is on being successful academically. Part of the college experience is to have fun while at the same time, get a diploma.
Having fun in college does not mean getting drunk or using drugs at late-night parties. You will create more mental health problems for you and prevent you from succeeding.
Instead, join groups who are going to the movies, taking mini-road trips, attending athletic events, and learning new hobbies.
Mindfulness involves getting to know your mind, body, and spirit. It means listening to the needs of your body and meeting those needs.
To get to know your body better, use mindfulness techniques like meditation. Even ten minutes a day has shown to lessen anxiety. There are many meditation activities you can learn, either from searching online or joining a group who practices meditation.
Other activities like yoga and deep breathing exercises can prove beneficial to fight anxiety.
In conclusion, these are just a few ways you can fight anxiety while in college. The good news is that you can have a normal college life if you take action to overcome your issue. Don’t be afraid to tell others you have anxiety.
In expressing your concerns, you may find you help someone else who is struggling. Anxiety does not have to control your life in college. Seek help, implement these ideas, and reach your college goals.
Photo by Christian Erfurt