10 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety in College
When you go to college and live in the dorms, you experience a tremendous change of lifestyle. You gain a newfound freedom and independence, with added responsibility of self-care and time management. Unfortunately, you may also experience mental health issues like anxiety in college. With this freedom, no longer are you explicitly told where to go or what to do. Whether you go to class, study, party, workout, etc. becomes your decision alone. You will also start encountering a number of potential stressors, from social pressures and relationships to midterms and finals. For some, all this added pressure alongside the number of new and foreign experiences could lead to the onset of symptoms of anxiety in college. Self care becomes even more important when you are independent. Anxiety manifests differently for everyone, but common symptoms include:
- Feeling like you can’t breathe/ aren’t getting enough air, making you take even deeper breaths
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping because your mind is racing
- Fear/Anxiety of social situations or specific scenarios (eating in a restaurant, driving)
- Fear/Anxiety of leaving your dorm room or place of residence
- De-realization / disassociation where reality feels like a dream
It may be even harder to deal with when all your floormates are fine. They may not understand what you are going through, as the same experiences that bring them joy are bringing you physical symptoms of fear, panic, and anxiety.
For this reason, these 10 tips for dealing with anxiety in college can be practiced on your own, and will re-assure you that you are not alone in what you are experiencing and going through:
1. Get Proactive by Managing Your Stress Levels
One key realization with mental health is that it is very common for stress, anxiety, and depression to feed into each other. As a result, building resilience by ensuring your stress levels are tolerable will help proactively defend against other mental ailments. The number of classes you take, grades you want to receive, extracurriculars you want to be involved in are in your control. Whether you are a A student completing in 3 years or a B student completing in 6 years, everyone needs to move at a pace that their body is comfortable handling. Challenging yourself doesn’t mean burning yourself out. Be mindful on how your time is spent, and try to get your reading and studying in early so that you don’t encounter spikes of stress around midterms and finals, as you’ve distributed the work throughout the semester.
2. Ensure to Workout Daily (20 min cardio)
The believed cause of many mental illness is chemical imbalance in the brain. One way to get the right chemicals flowing is through cardio activities, at a minimum of 20 minutes a day. These chemicals will promote your mood and motivation. If you aren’t confident to leave your dorm, you can always do a HIIT exercise in your room.
3. Ensure to Eat Healthily
Mood can also be affected by lack of vitamins or healthy diet. Ensuring you are getting balanced meals of a variety of different food types including proteins and greens is key. You may also want to consider meal prep if you have a kitchen available. Try to make the ramen and poptarts a occasional rather than daily meal.
4. Ensure to Get a Good Amount of Sleep
Sleep is the single most important thing your body needs to recover and repair itself, especially keeping your mind resilient for the days academic and social activities. While finding good sleep may be hard due to the many obligations and distractions in the dorm, we have put together this guide for getting better sleep in college.
5. Find a Local or Virtual Therapist
Therapy will significantly help you process your emotions, and identify triggers that could be causing your anxieties. You will also learn mechanisms for coping and combating the negative thoughts. While therapy in person is generally available, there are a number of apps like BetterHelp that also connect you to therapists virtually. Your school may also have a therapist available at lower cost.
6. Take Yoga Classes, in Person or Online
Calming the mind is not an easy thing to do. By taking advantage of peace, focus, and breathwork, practicing yoga can help you achieve peace and calm that can carry through your day or night.
7. Learn Meditation
With everything going on, quieting the brain will provide much needed calm. Learning meditation will help you acknowledge and release thoughts, and achieve better peace with your thoughts and self. There are few apps we highly recommend later that you can use as guided meditation or to teach you to meditate.
8. Read Untangle Your Anxiety
One book that is highly recommended in this community is untangle your anxiety, which you can check out below. It’s written by those who have struggled with what you are struggling, and know what you are going through and what can help.
9. Download Mental Wellness Apps
There are some really useful apps to checkout, to help you with breathing, meditating, and sleep. There are free and paid versions available.
10. Follow supportive social media accounts
There are some great socials on instagram to checkout. These accounts will help you feel heard and provide advice and insights on anxiety.
Finally and most importantly, talk to a doctor if your symptoms are getting worse and its impacting your ability to live life, as they can both help you get a prescription if needed, as well as get you the proper medical diagnosis which will allow you to get potential accommodations in the classroom and for test taking, as needed. Most schools have on-site medical facilities for students which would be able to provide these services.
Additional resources can also be found here: https://discoverymood.com/blog/online-resources-for-mental-health/
We hope these 10 tips will help you identify, manage, and control your anxiety both during and after college.
Note: While we used the advice of doctors & clinical psychologists to build this list, we ourselves are not a healthcare provider and this information should not be used to diagnose or treat any disease.