College can be stressful, especially for students that suffer from social anxiety. Here are 5 tips to relieve stress and keep anxiety at bay
I had my first anxiety attack during my freshman year in high school.
I remember it so clearly, as if it happened just yesterday. It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon, right at the end of third-period Chemistry class. I told my teacher I wasn’t feeling well, that I needed to go home right away. I had zero idea what was going on with me or how I could handle the way my body was acting.
At first I thought it’s just one of those dreary days that I could easily shrug off. But then it happened the next day, and five days after that. When my mom suggested I go see a doctor, they diagnosed me with social anxiety.
I knew so little about it at the time, but I ended up dealing with anxiety for the rest of high school and throughout my first two years in college. My anxiety held me back from doing a lot of things, but after dealing with it for many years,
I finally realized that I could be happy and continue to move forward while coping with anxiety.
At the end of the day, I realized that I wasn’t alone. We’re all in this together and we deal with our own problems and challenges. Realizing this is what made me want to speak out to tell others that they are never alone with their struggles. In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, 32 percent of adolescents between the ages 13 and 18 suffer from anxiety disorder.
For many students, transitioning from high school to college can present a number of challenges that may trigger anxiety. The changes and stress from dealing with new people, a new environment, and a new lifestyle can all lead to severe anxiety. With it, a college student can develop maladaptive habits like smoking, drinking, and toxic eating habits and partaking in other risky behaviors. Worse, it can lead to chronic mental conditions which, when left untreated, can lead to suicide.
Preparation is key to keeping students from suffering. Here are some helpful ways to help college students who struggle with anxiety:
1. Identify and Address Triggers
When an anxious teen lives at home, parents are usually the ones to take on active roles in watching for signs of anxiety. Common signs and triggers to watch out for include:
- Psychosomatic problems such headaches, stomachaches, and profuse sweating
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Social isolation / Avoidance
- Increased feelings of frustration or anger
Once the teen goes to college, it would be best for (s)he to be able to identify these red flags and learn how to address them.
2. Practice Self-Care
College isn’t just all about studying; it can be a lot of fun, too. But sometimes, it can be difficult to follow healthy habits. Yet, no matter how busy your day is, everyone needs plenty of sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet to function optimally. And for a college student who’s struggling with anxiety, meeting these “basics” is extremely important.
One challenge college students often face is adjusting to different schedules. To avoid getting overwhelmed (which can lead to increased anxiety), learn how to prioritize tasks, set goals, and plan activities ahead of the week. Don’t have enough time to deal with all your assignments? Consider turning to best essay writers websites for academic assistance.
3. Use Distraction
A lot of college students find that using distraction can help them avoid what triggers their anxiety. If a situation starts to make you feel anxious, walk away from it and find something else to get yourself busy with.
This technique can turn an anxiety-filled day into a happy and productive one.
Distracting yourself with positive people, thoughts, and activities that will have a positive impact on your mental health and well-being can lead you to get involved in matters you wouldn’t have if you stayed in your anxious state.
4. Start Journaling
It may seem intimidating at first, but journaling as a way to curb anxiety can be surprisingly helpful. If you’re a college student who often has a million thoughts running through your head, writing down all of those in a journal can actually give you — and your brain — a much-deserved break.
Feeling under the weather? When you vent out all your frustrations and whatever is bothering you in a journal, you’ll feel as if a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders. There’s no rule of thumb when it comes to journaling. You don’t even have to do it everyday. It’s your own little space for letting out your inner thoughts.
5. Find Support When You Need It
For college students, the campus can be the best place to find resources to help them deal with their anxiety. If you live in a dorm, a residential assistant is often present to help resolve personal conflicts and issues among residents. If you’re struggling with curriculum planning, consider turning to your adviser or a learning specialist from the Office of Disability Services. And of course, every college or university has their own counseling center where you can talk to a mental health practitioner regarding anxiety or other personal issues you may have.
The great news about anxiety is that it’s easily manageable, given the right strategies and support system.
But, the best resources against it is you and your ability to identify and evaluate the root cause of your anxiety and how you can address it. If you’re unsure how to cope with your feelings or if you ever feel you need more support than what’s already being offered, don’t be afraid to approach an adviser or counselor, or a learning specialist for referrals.
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