College is known for being stressful, and for someone with an anxiety disorder, that prospect can be overwhelming. However, there are ways to successfully manage your anxiety and still thrive while at school, just like millions of college students suffering from anxiety disorders do. Just remember: taking care of your mental health is a necessity, not a luxury.
1. Find places on campus where you're comfortable
Everyone differs when it comes to where they like to study or relax on campus. Find spots where you feel comfortable getting work done. Some people need the peace and quiet of the library to focus, whereas some people need the liveliness of the student center to get inspired, or maybe a mix of both in a place like a cafe. Try out different spots on campus and see which one suits your studying style best, but remember that sometimes it can be helpful to have a change of scenery! Don't forget to also find places where you can relax, whether it is a lounge where you and your friends can hang out or your own dorm room.
2. Get into a routine (and build in me-time)
I find that sticking to a schedule really helps alleviate the anxiety I have around managing my time. There are weeks when you have more work than usual, and budgeting your time efficiently really helps you to finish all of your work. I recommend looking over your syllabuses in advance so you have a general idea of what you need to accomplish in the week ahead. Then, make a to-do list that prioritizes your most important assignments. However, do not get caught up in the sheer amount of work you have to do, just remember that you WILL finish it. Never forget to incorporate time to yourself to relax and de-stress, even if that means taking some time away from your studying. Usually, I work out my weekly schedule so that I have a lot of time to myself on the weekends. If I budget my time right, I will finish all of my work within the weekdays and only use the weekends if I am studying for a tests, working on a significant project/paper, or giving myself a head-start on an assignment.
3. Practice self-care
Know which self-care methods you need to implement the most. Above all, make sure you get enough sleep and eat well, these are two things that many college students do not focus on. Taking care of your body is also taking care of your mind. I find that I am less anxious when I am getting at least seven hours of sleep and not eating a lot of junk food. There are other ways to practice self-care too, like just sitting down and watching Netflix for an hour, spending quality time with friends, listening to your favorite podcast, exercising, meditating, or any other activity that can take your mind off your anxious thoughts. Find coping strategies that work for you!
4. Confide in others
Everyone in college is in the same boat. Ask around and you may find that many of your peers also suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. According to the American College Health Association Spring 2014 National College Health Assessment, 15.8% of college students have been diagnosed with, or treated for, anxiety problems. Do not be afraid to confide in your friends about your anxiety, you may find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in feeling this way. It also helps to have friends who are aware of your condition, and who can help you when they recognize your symptoms. Building a support system on campus is crucial to maintaining good mental health, and the best way to create one is to open up about your thoughts and feelings.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Remember this: no one at your school wants to see you fail. It is literally the job of faculty and staff on campus to help you succeed. There are people whose sole job it is to support students who struggle with mental illness. These people are here to help you!! If you need help, you should feel no shame in asking for it. Look up the resources your campus has available to you and use them! Do your research and email the people who can help you out, and if you don't know who to contact, ask any faculty or staff member. Your orientation counselor, your RA, your academic advisor, any of your professors, they are all trained on how to support students with mental illnesses so they will go out of their way to help you. If you are thinking about seeking professional help, contact the student counseling center. There is no shame in seeing a therapist if you need to.