5 Ways for College Students to Cope With Anxiety
I grew up in a family that didn’t believe mental health was a “real thing”. So when I started having migraines and panic attacks in my early adult years, I had no idea what to contribute it to. Five years later and (surprise!) I’m still learning about my anxiety and how to cope with it. Here are just a few suggestions that have helped me make it through my college years: anxiety and all.
You knew it was coming, I knew it was coming, we’re just going to get this out of the way first thing. Counseling, therapy or whatever you want to call it is one of the best options for a stressed out student. Going to a counselor for the first time can be intimidating, but once you find the right one for you it really pays off. Most universities have psychological services on campus where you can attend individual or group therapy sessions at a time convenient for you.
Okay, this one is probably the weirdest on the list but stay with me. EFT stands for “Emotional Freedom Technique” and is also known as “Tapping Therapy.” The reason I love this option is because I can do it wherever I am–in my room, on public transportation, in the middle of the library during a study session… as long as I feel comfortable that I can disguise my “tapping” as mindless fidgeting. Basically the theory is that you can release negative emotions by tapping on different meridian points in your body. I don’t know all the science behind it; I just know I feel more peaceful when I finish, and it didn’t require me scheduling an appointment with a therapist or doctor.
I’m just glad my five-year-old self can’t see my 23-year-old self sitting on the ground with my legs crossed and a towel over my head (to block out the light). But what five-year-old Whit didn’t know is that meditation is one of the best preventative practices for anxiety. Anxiety is usually caused when our mind starts racing about all the things we can’t control, so it makes sense that the way to counteract it is by practicing living in the moment. Some schools have guided meditation programs that they will refer you to. If not, there are some awesome apps. My favorite is “Calm” which has a lot of free sessions and great background noise. After you finish all the free sessions you can pay for the subscription. Give up buying one Chik-fil-a sandwich for a month of mindfulness. It’s worth it.
I’ll rip this one off like a band-aid. If you can’t control your anxiety, stop eating sugar. Spend 30 seconds on Google Scholar and you’ll agree with me. It’s also possible you may have allergies you don’t know about that are increasing your anxiety–in which case you should look into getting tested for food sensitivities (some chiropractors offer acupuncture and allergy testing). Common sensitivities to be tested for are sugar, gluten, and eggs.
As I mentioned before, I was raised in a pretty conservative family when it came to mental health and medication. I was hesitant to try it, and I DO think it’s important to be careful with it, but anxiety medication is one of the best things that has happened for my mental health. Although I would suggest that it should be a short term option until you get all the other factors sorted out, it’s a great choice for someone who is struggling to get their health under control.
For a while I thought anxiety was going to be a one-time fix thing, and after reading some self-help books and seeing a doctor I would be mostly fine. I soon found that this is not the case. Being in the anxiety battle for the long-run can seem daunting, but that’s why it’s important to get down these practices now while you’re young. You CAN have anxiety and get a degree–if you rely on your resources.
Pearson Students: How do you deal with anxiety? Do you see any of Whitney’s tips working for you? Share by commenting below!