It's the start of a new semester and a new year. Now is the perfect time for starting over new, grabbing your anxiety by the reins, and showing it who is the boss. Whether your anxiety is just a troublesome annoyance or a full blown problem, these ten tips have helped me and will help you too.
1.Be open with your friends/family
Having a support system is crucial. Feeling like you constantly have to hide your anxiety will only add on to it. Opening up and talking about it can be hard and emotional, but you will feel so much better when you aren't having to constantly be making up fake excuses for why you are acting "weird."
2. Be active
You're probably scoffing at this tip and a year ago I would have too, but this may be the most important one. Exercising is VITAL for mental health, and it also gives you extra energy among many other things. If you don't want to go to your recreational center, or even leave your house, check out some workout routines online. I recommend Yoga with Adriene on Youtube. Her videos are free, and she doesn't take herself too seriously. You may not feel great after your first week of working out, but I promise if you don't give up you will begin to start feeling MUCH better mentally (as well as physically).
3. Be organized
No one wants to spend their free time organizing a closet, but it can save your morning again and again. I have found that my anxiety tends to get worse when I am in a messy environment. If you're like me and have roommates, make your room your safe zone. A clean room, some lit candles, and a bare desk to work on your homework will make you feel much better than trying to push dirty clothes off your bed and scrambling to find your pen in a bag full of gum wrappers, wrinkled papers, and a half eaten sandwich (yes, don't judge me). I like to spend my Sunday afternoons organizing, so I'm prepared for the week
4. Don't go out if it will stress you out
We've all been in the situation where you have a pile of homework due in two days that you MIGHT be able to push off for the night, if you devote every minute the next day to studying. It can be hard to watch your roommates taking shots and getting ready for a night out while you sit there in your pajamas with four books on your desk, but I promise that you will feel infinitely better than them the next morning when you are not hungover and have finished your work. Plus, getting ahead of the game just means when you go out the next night you won't be worried about getting your stuff done later, and you will be in a better state of mind.
5. Get your eight hours of sleep
We all know it isn't realistic that you will get this every night, but put in a genuine effort to get a good amount of sleep the majority of the week. Don't drink caffeine in the evening, put down your electronics an hour before bed, and drink some sleepy time tea before bed. If you're living in the dorms or a fraternity/sorority house, INVEST IN SOME EAR PLUGS! Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and pop those suckers in before bed. An eye mask is also handy, if you have a roommate that stays up till the wee hours.
6. Eat good, feel good
I'm not going to preach to you on this one, because you've heard it before, I've heard it before, babies fresh out the womb have heard it before. You are what you eat, and it's as simple as that. If you eat junk, you aren't going to feel the best mentally or physically. The best thing to do here, is don't keep any bad food in your dorm/house, out of sight out of mind. Cut out all sugary beverages, and try to eat as organic as possible. Eating healthy in college is not easy, but with the right mind set you can at least improve your eating habits.
Please for me, just give it one week. Meditation has been shown to help with racing thoughts, worrying, and an uneasy mind. For people new to meditation, there is a great FREE app for beginners I highly recommend called Headspace. It's really simple, gives you guided directions, and even has cute little tutorial videos. If you can just put aside 15 minutes every day you will feel exponentially better.
8. Visit your Office of Accessibility
Last semester a professor recommended I visit the Office of Accessibility after I panicked in his office about a missed deadline, and it was an absolute game changer. I was nervous about going in and making an appointment, but every single person I interacted with was nothing but kind and understanding. They offer a ton of different options for making classes easier when your anxiety is unbearable or you're having panic attacks. It won't hurt to make an appointment and see what can be done, if you're struggling with classes because of anxiety.
9. Talk to your a counselor at your university
Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who will understand, or who doesn't know you. This is FREE at your university and you can usually call and get in that week. If you do it once, and decide you don't like it, that's completely fine. But you owe it to yourself to give yourself every chance of getting better, and learning how to conquer your anxiety.
10. Know what to do when you panic
Panic/anxiety attacks are completely horrific, and impossible to describe to someone who hasn't experienced one before. Just know your first couple are your worst, and by learning how to handle them it gets easier. When you feel yourself starting to panic, remember your breathing. Something that has helped me is "square breathing." When you breathe in count to four, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and then hold for four seconds before repeating. This will slow your heart rate, and trick your body into believing you are relaxing and everything is okay. If you are in the classroom, the second you feel yourself getting out of control, calmly gather your things and out to the hall. Give yourself five minutes to get composed and do your square breathing. If after five minutes you are still panicking, just go home. This is where the Office of Accessibility comes in handy, because if you have made an appointment there, they will have sent your teacher an email warning them that this may happen now and again.
Congratulations on taking the time to learn the steps to defeating your anxiety, it won't be easy, but you WILL come out a stronger person. Remember that you're not alone, and that it will get easier.