As fun as attending a university as huge, school spirited, and prestigious as NC State is, stressors are most definitely abundant for the average student. These hurdles and challenges are even more amplified with the intense weight of a mental illness, such as anxiety, looming overhead. I am a strong believer that mental health is just as important as physical health and anxiety in college can rear its ugly head under the weight of GPAs, relationships, and socialization.
As a constantly anxious person, I am always trying to maneuver my way around this plight. Here are some tips on how.
1. Take Advantage of School Resources
First and foremost, handling anxiety in college is not easy for anyone and you are never expected to control your condition all alone. Most institutions, have some sort of counseling center located on campus. Now I know, the idea of admitting you need help or the stigma that surrounds therapy can discourage you from walking through the doors. However, the lovely people at these centers are trained to help you understand and cope with the struggles that may increase your anxiety in college, as well as manage the everyday struggles of this illness.
Talking with people who understand and/or experience the constant shortness of breath, nervous antics, or crying over what some would consider “nothing” really elevates the common feeling of loneliness that goes hand in hand with mental illness.
2. Do Your Best to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Okay, when I read articles like this and come to a tip that involves me sweating or getting painfully out of breath, my eyes automatically roll out of my head and down the street. BUT, as I said before, mental health is just as important as physical, so I would be lying if I said that working out doesn’t help. As my role model, spirit animal, and all around life guru Elle Woods would say, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Though you may not be worried about killing any millionaire husband you have, Elle is right that endorphins are really powerful and plentiful after a good workout. Breaking a sweat helps calm those feelings of anxiety that may lay in your subconscious or be abundantly overwhelming.
3. Get Out and About
One of the worst aspects of anxiety that hits me every single day is the plague of overthinking. I have noticed that this gets progressively worse when I’m alone or cooped up in my dorm room, despite how comfy my bed may be. NCSU, as well as any school campus, offers many places in public to sit and relax. Talley is my personal favorite place to go. There is something comforting about being surrounded by so many people, even though I may be sitting all by myself. However, Talley is only one of the tons of available areas to plop down and enjoy some people watching.
Shutting yourself off from the community, even unintentionally, can do more harm than good. The idea of being in a public place doing your own business, whether it be homework, playing games on your phone, or even watching Netflix on your laptop can be much more lifting to your mood than locking yourself in a small area all alone with your thoughts.
4. Get Engaged in You Classes
Though I think that raising your hand, asking questions, contributing opinions, or meeting classmates is beneficial to the constant twitch that mental illness can embed in your personality, your topics in your classes can also spark a new interest in you if given the chance. You may muddle through your classes, especially your general education courses, merely to pass the test and get the grade.
Though these topics may not be your passion, deep study and further exploration of these courses can make you enjoy the burden of school work more. Plus, this intense study is a better way to focus your energy. By the end of your study session, you’ll feel yourself having less to spawn your anxiety and have more to feel productive about.
5. Self-Confidence is KEY
Let’s face it, every single person has insecurities. Some of us more than others, and we can either let that shape us or break us. Personally, anxiety in college has hit my self-confidence with a sledge hammer on many occasions. Walking around a huge campus with so many beautiful people can make you question every wonderful thing about you or any compliment that has ever be given to you. Anxiety affects mental and physical attributes of your whole sense of self. Am I funny enough, attractive enough, smart enough? That is why constant self-assurance is so important, not only on a college campus but everywhere in life.
It is not vain to compliment and boost yourself. Not one bit. Regardless of any outcome try to walk out of any class, conversation, or situation recognizing at least two things you did great. They are there, no matter the size. Dwell on those rather than what you messed up. Make it a habit and I promise eventually it will lift your spirits.
6. Have a Safe Place
The nooks and crannies of huge campuses offer ample space to be alone and safe. I will always refer people back to the counseling center, BUT there are many more places. Whether you need silence, a place to cry, or just a place to calm down, having that safe space can do wonders. Don’t allow any toxic people into this safe place with you. This place is for you to feel anything and everything and let it all out. Whether it is a lounge in your hall, a shady spot on the lawn, your dorm itself, or a nook in Hunt Library, this space is yours to rely on.
There are thousands of students on your college campus. That’s a lot of potential friends, a lot of people to fill your days with fun, and a lot of people capable of preoccupying your ever racing mind. However, you’re not going to meet them unless you socialize. This is a lot easier said than done. Especially with social anxiety that is a common sub level of this sickness. Will these people like me? Am I just forcing my presence onto them? It’s normal to ask these questions. So normal, in fact, that most of those people are wondering the same things about themselves while hanging out with you.
Friendships take time and they are so worth it once they have really developed. A brave, effective tactic could even be walking in all the open doors on your hallway and introducing yourself. To me, a person with anxiety, this sounds like crazy bravery, but I know that it works. Though it may be terrifying, socializing can result in friends and good times that will help your illness seem like a little speck on this huge windshield of life.
8. Talk to People
Talking to people is SO important. Vent your feelings. Cry to friends. Find your support system. The right people will never desert you in this fight and, in a bittersweet way, it’s a way of finding out who your true people are. Keeping everything to yourself is only going to amplify your worries, loneliness, and even be detrimental to your physical health.You may even find someone going through the exact same thing. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings because they are justified and deserve to be acknowledged.
9. Take a “Me” Day
Despite all the support you have around you, you are the only one responsible for your happiness. You need to be the most important person to yourself, in the most healthy way possible. “Me” days are good for anyone, whether you suffer from anxiety or not. Eat your cookies, do your squats, watch a season of The Office, because you DESERVE it. Though time to be by yourself can be scary, filling that time with comforting things to spoil yourself with is very beneficial. With anxiety, you spend so much time stressing about this or that or worrying about how you’re coming across to others, but on these me days no one can judge you because it’s YOUR day.
10. Know That It Is Okay to Feel Like This
The intense thoughts, emotions, or physical effects can make you feel crazy. You feel like every other person is functioning so much better than you and wouldn’t understand you if you tried to express the monsoon that is happening inside you. It’s hard for us to understand how we feel ourselves, let alone help others understand. This can put pressure on relationships, whether out of the fear of revealing your worries or the other person’s inability to understand or help. This isn’t their fault. But it most definitely isn’t yours either.
You didn’t choose to have this illness and it’s far too often that we find us blaming ourselves. The drowning feeling of loneliness during anxiety attacks or just in a general sense of struggle can make you feel as if not one person in the world understands. If this article does anything at all, I hope it shows that there are so many others going through what you are concurring. That, personally, is a calming fact. Because that helps me know that I am NOT crazy.
There sadly isn’t a magic way to fix mental illness, though these ways help me lighten the load. Professional help is never too far away. You are not weak if you need help, so don’t brush it off. Anxiety in college is a powerful plague and if you relate to this article or it helps you even the slightest, you are not alone.
Do you deal with anxiety in college? Let us know your favorite tips in the comments below!
featured image source: weheartit.com
I am a five foot, 2 inches tall, sophomore, history major at NCSU. I love all the typical human things such as pizza, Netflix, cute dog videos, and Disney movies. My plans for the future are to become either a travel agent, museum curator, travel blogger, Puppy-Bowl referee, Disney Company CEO... just to name a few. I have many passions in life and one of them is happiness. I want nothing more to be happy and help others feel joy as well. The world is a tough place and happiness is so often taken for granted. I love people and I want people to love themselves.