How to be a functional, anxious college student

Anxiety is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”

Anxiety is something that thousands of people deal with on a daily basis, and it’s something that often can’t be controlled.

While it’s difficult for people of all ages, college students especially struggle with anxiety while trying to manage academics, make money while in school and figure  out their futures.

Here are just a few tips to follow when it comes to tackling anxiety as a college student:


No “right” or “wrong” way to deal with anxiety

It’s not about “fixing” anxiety to make others happy, it’s about feeling happy with who you are.

Everyone has different ticks, circumstances and breaking points, and you may find what works for others won’t have the same effect for you.

Around 40 million adults in the United States alone deal with anxiety on a day-to-day basis and will understand the struggle.

Sometimes it helps to know there are other people who understand and have succeeded in living with their anxiety.


Take a time-out

Everyone knows college life is crazy.

Be sure to take a moment to try and relax, even if only for a short period of time.

Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk – anything that will help relax your mind and help refresh for the time being.


Learn how to cope

A big part of learning how to live with anxiety is learning how to cope when it becomes overwhelming to the point of physical pain and mental distress.

Breathing exercises, daily exercise, communicating with others and understanding that you can’t control everything are just a few examples of useful coping strategies.

Find what works for you and try to include them in daily routines.


Get enough sleep and maintain a healthy diet

Anxiety can often have negative affects on the body, including sleep deprivation and loss of appetite.

College students often skip meals and skimp on sleep for work and/or social activities, frequently leading to increased anxiety.

Studies have found that lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety, showing that sleep is extremely important to mental health.

Get the appropriate amount of sleep, avoid excessive amounts of caffeine, and at the very least don’t skip any meals.


Reach out to family and friends

Possibly the hardest part of dealing with anxiety is the feeling of isolation that comes with it.

Reading testimonials from others online can only help so much; they are usually strangers on the other side of a computer or phone screen.

Be sure to reach out to your family and friends for support and love.

Even if they don’t understand what you’re going through, they don’t want to see you in pain and will be there to listen.


Consider getting help from professionals

Sometimes it just becomes too much – coping strategies might become less effective, anxiety may become overwhelming and begin interfering with work, school and more.

Look to your school for resources. Schools usually provide some sort of counseling service to assist students.

In some cases, schools provide licensed psychiatrists and therapists, and can offer medication when talk therapy isn’t enough.


Just breathe

Remember – there’s nothing wrong with you.

Anxiety comes in many different forms – don’t try to force yourself into one category.

The chances of you being alive and here are one in a billion, and the fact that you’ve made it this far shows that you are more than capable.

Understand something very important – it’s ok to not be ok

by Bekah Caceres


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