How to Manage Anxiety While in College

College can be an exciting but extremely stressful part of our journey into adulthood. It’s the first time that we have the power to choose where we want our lives to go. We get the chance to choose the career path that we have to be happy with for the rest of our lives! No pressure, right? Wrong. 

The more research I’ve done, the more I see that anxiety is a growing problem among young people – especially college students. Plus, I have my own personal experience with this….

Anxiety is a topic that I’ve kept quiet about, but always wanted to address. I think if more people were willing to discuss it and were willing to realize just how many people are affected, there wouldn’t be such a stigma about this.

Here’s the thing: Anxiety is so much more than just getting nervous. Anxiety is an internal life altering condition that can affect the way a person thinks, feels, and lives their life. Anxiety is also not the same thing as stress, though they are used interchangeably. Stress is caused by external circumstances, and majority of the time, it can easily be controlled or managed.

Anxiety affects millions of people every single day. It doesn’t discriminate. Research has shown that people from ages 16-25 years old are more likely to experience and suffer from anxiety due to the high demands and pressures of society. Interested in learning more? Read here.

As someone who has experienced anxiety, I know how debilitating it can be. You feel alone, misunderstood, and you constantly feel like you’re a prisoner of your own thoughts. That’s a lot to take on at such a young age!

However, I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way before. I know that there many people who choose to remain silent due to fear and judgement. I also know that I’m not one of those people anymore. So, if you’re like me and live with anxiety, I’ve compiled a list of ways to help you manage college life along with keeping your health in check.

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  1. Breathe: I know firsthand how classes, professors, assignments, projects, and presentations can completely overwhelm you. Take a few deep breaths. If you find yourself in that place of anxiousness, stop for a moment. Go somewhere quiet and take in a few deep breaths. Focusing on inhaling and exhaling sends oxygen to your brain and stops the anxiety from occurring.
  2. Watch What You Eat: While it is important to have a balanced, healthy diet, I’m not talking about food here. Watch what you feed your soul. Are you constantly digesting negativity? Are you indulging yourself in the judgments of others? If yes, stop. It’s unhealthy and will only feed your fears. Instead, surround yourself with positivity. Read positive blogs, read positive affirmations, and of course, surround yourself with positive people.
  3. Talk: One of the best ways to combat anxiety is to talk it out. Find someone you trust – whether that is a family member or close friend. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, but avoid people who are only going to use that vulnerability against you. When you confide in someone about your anxiety, be very selective. Not everyone is going to understand your journey. But, when you find that special person that you feel that you can open up to, do it. Don’t hide yourself. Be prepared though for frustrating and hurtful times on both of your parts. If the person that you talk to doesn’t have anxiety, be patient with them as they try to understand what you’re going through. Realize that it’s not easy for them to understand, but by being as straightforward as possible, you’ll help them know you a little better. Don’t be afraid to let someone see the dark side of you. If they truly love you, they won’t walk away from your friendship or relationship.
  4. Let Your Professors Know What’s Up: Anyone living with anxiety knows that some days are better than others. Some days, you’re fine, and some days, you struggle to get out of bed. Anxiety can hit you out of nowhere. If that happens, and you find yourself having to leave or miss class because of it, let your professor know what’s going on. You don’t need to go into explicit detail, but give them a heads up. You don’t want them to think that you’re merely skipping class or are just plain irresponsible. It might be embarrassing, but chances are they will understand and your grade won’t suffer because of it.
  5. Self-Care/Self-Love: This is probably the most important tip. Learning to love yourself despite your anxiety is hard. Very hard. But, it is oh so necessary. Every day, take some time out to do something you enjoy. Make time in your busy schedule for YOU. Take a walk, play with your pet, read your favorite book, listen to your favorite song, do Yoga, exercise…allow yourself to be happy.

Bottom line is that living with anxiety sucks. It sucks more when you’re in college. But there are so many ways to get help and keep your anxiety level low. Be confident. Be brave. Be bold. Be you.

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