Four ways to deal with your anxiety in college

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By: John Sargeson

Going through college is hard as it is, but mix in anxiety, and it can be much more difficult than it should be.

Anxiety sucks.  There’s no other way to put it.  Your mind is always running at paces that you can’t keep up with.  It keeps you up at night by making you overthink everything.  Your mind is at a constant worry.  It makes your mood change from happy to sad in a second.

My anxiety has even prevented me from going to class sometimes.  There are just days when you wake up and don’t want to be bothered by anyone.  It’s as if everyone you come in contact with that day is mad at you about something.  It prevents me from being happy some days, because every conversation I have with someone that day will make me sad out of nowhere.

That’s what anxiety does to you, and it’s not something that’s easy to talk about.  It’s not something that fits into every conversation with someone.  It’s not like, “Hey man, did you see that the Penguins won?”  “Oh yeah.  I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, and sometimes I hate being around people.”  And that’s why seeking help is hard, because it’s embarrassing to admit all that, so you don’t want to bring it up to anyone.

But here’s the thing — if you suffer from anxiety, seeking help is the best cure.  And not help as in immediate medical help—I mean talking to a therapist.  There are even therapists on many college campuses to talk to when you get overwhelmed and think the world is collapsing.

I was hesitant about going to a therapist.  I always said, “Why would I want to tell someone I don’t know all of my secrets, when I won’t even tell them to my friends?  I don’t think talking to someone will make my anxiety go away.”  I refused to go until when one day, I had a really bad anxiety attack, and my mom demanded that I talk to someone about it.

And guess what?  It has helped tremendously.  It helps so much, because no matter what you tell them, they know how to find the root of what makes you anxious.  Sometimes there are things you don’t want to talk to your friends, family or significant other about—that’s what I was going through.  But I learned that bottling everything in and not talking about it is why you get anxious about certain things.

Therapists also tell you ways to help you get through your anxiety.  My therapist has told me many ways to not only deal with my anxiety, but also to conquer it.  Here are some tips that she told me in my last visit, which was last week:

  1. When something overwhelms you, write it down in a journal.  Writing things down works with anxiety, because it’s an easier way for you to see what you are going through.
  2. Make lists.  Write down everything that is due for the week in school when you find out.  Write down all of the important assignments in class.  It gets your brain clicking and makes it easier to see the finish line.
  3. Don’t procrastinate.  This sounds like a cliché, but because your anxiety will overwhelm you, as it occurs on an everyday basis, waiting until the last minute for anything will only make it worse.
  4. Exercise.  When you do any sort of activity, it takes your mind off whatever was upsetting you.  Exercising is a really effective way of handling your anxiety when it comes.

I also have some ways of my own to deal with my anxiety.  One is that I listen to music when I feel anxious.  It puts my mind at ease and calms me down.  Another thing I do is watch videos on YouTube.  This sounds so easy, but just making yourself laugh helps you feel much better.  When I have days in which I feel sad, I just try to do things that will make me laugh or make me happy.

I know that it can feel like your anxiety buries you.  But coming from someone who has been dealing with anxiety for five years now, it gets better.  It sounds like another cliché, but sometimes you just have to hear it.

Also, you have to make your teachers aware of your anxiety.  The fact of the matter is that teachers are here to help you.  All of the teachers on campus are here to help.  Although they won’t remove assignments for you to do, they will be there to talk to you about how you can get assignments done without feeling overwhelmed.  Making them aware that your anxiety might hinder your ability in the classroom provides more help than you could imagine.

Going through school and dealing with anxiety is very hard.  Deadlines suck, because you always get scared that you won’t get an assignment done, and you fear that it’s not perfect.  However, I promise you that you’re capable of doing it.  Some days will be harder than others, but at the end of the day, don’t let your anxiety ruin anything.

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