How to Deal with Anxiety in College

Towards the middle of my first semester living at college, I began to experience a lot of anxiety.  There were entire days where I felt like my heart was constantly racing and my mind was unable to focus on anything.  What few moments of peace I did have were tainted by the fear that they would be short-lived.  I was struggling to get simple things done or enjoy experiences that should have been fun and lighthearted.  Although I’ve experienced anxiety before, I had never felt it to this degree.  But instead of letting it dictate my time and emotions, I made an effort to work through the experience and address it.  If you’re someone who experiences anxiety or even just struggles to find peace in the hectic schedule of college, here are some things that worked for me (and most of these work whether you’re a student or not!):

1. Confide in someone

Whether it’s a friend at school, a family member, or a pen pal, it’s always important to have a person you can rant to without judgment.  Sometimes they will have advice or a different perspective you wouldn’t have thought of yourself – but sometimes it’s just nice to let it all out.

2. Manage your responsibilities

If homework, job duties, or other to-do’s start piling up, it will only fuel your anxiety.  Take the time to sit down and make a list of what you need to work on, in order of priority.  Don’t try to do it all at once or you’ll just fizzle out – schedule manageable amounts of work throughout the day.

3. Create a relaxing environment to work/live in

My dorm room often becomes the “meeting place” for my group of friends and even though I love hanging out with everyone, I know that if I need to get work done, I can’t do it with a lot of other people in the room or I’ll just get distracted.  Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself to get stuff done, even if it means stepping away from the fun for a minute!  Similarly, I try to make sure my dorm always feels cozy and inviting so that I can de-stress.  (Check out my Dorm Room Essentials post for tips!)

4. Commit to a wellness routine

One of the best ways for me to channel my anxiety is through working out and getting active.  Whether it’s going to the gym or taking a hike, grabbing a friend to knock out a killer workout will refocus your mind and make you feel refreshed.  If working out isn’t your thing, try yoga or gentle stretches.  Yoga with Adriene has some fantastic 30-day series on Youtube, but even taking 5 minutes in the morning to stretch and wake your body up will make a difference in the tone of your day.  Don’t forget about nutrition too – make a point to eat fresh foods and try to avoid the greasy, processed foods, at least throughout the week.  Treat yourself when you really need it, but take everything in moderation!

5. Go to therapy

For a lot of people, the idea of therapy can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  Most colleges will offer free counseling or therapy sessions – take advantage of them!  Everyone will get something different out of the experience and you may find that it’s not for you, but it’s always valuable to take advantage of the resources available to you.  Having a neutral party you can discuss your life with can be very cathartic once you get past the initial awkwardness.


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