7 Ways To Control Your Anxiety While At College

7 Ways To Control Your Anxiety While At College

Everyone feels anxious at some point or another, and there's plenty you can do to manage it.

Needless to say, college life is stressful. Even more so when you're a freshman still trying to find your place and figure out how to be a semi-functioning adult. I, for instance, just did laundry today and I felt like I had climbed a hundred mountains. But there's lots of ways to handle stress and anxiety. The trick is finding what works best for you. Here are a few of my go-to's when I feel like life is barreling down on me.

1. Go for a walk

Hands down the best way to relax and regain your composure after, or during, a difficult day is taking a walk outdoors. It's a similar concept to working out; the movement releases endorphins, gives your lungs and your heart a chance to reset and focus on the movement, but it's not as high-stress as running or lifting at the gym. Breathing that fresh air and just giving yourself a change of setting refreshes your brain and gives it time to engage in something other than what's bothering you. And while you're walking, you have the time and capacity to develop a plan of attack.

(If you're in AA, the Arb is 100% the most beautiful place to take your refreshing walk on campus.)

2. Meditate

Meditation doesn't have to look as aesthetic as this, I promise. It's as simple as finding a relatively quiet place, closing your eyes and focusing only on your breathing. Try your hardest not to think about anything, to just breath in and out. Picture a floating orb that gets bigger as you inhale and smaller as you exhale. This has a really calming effect when you're anxious. You're forced to relax and reset, and it brings your heart rate down so you can think more clearly.

3. Just breathe

Sometimes, finding a place to meditate isn't always feasible. But you can always stop where you are and breathe. Apple's breathe function on the iWatch sends you reminders throughout the day to complete a breathe session, calling it mindful minutes. If you just stop for one minute, and focus on breathing no matter what's around you, it has the same effect as meditating. It clears your mind and makes you feel so much calmer.

4. Take a shower

I feel like showers are the most perfect solution to all and any problems. Stressed? Take a shower. Angry? Take a shower. Writer's block? Take a shower. Sad? Take a shower. Showers are perfect, because as the water beats down on you and as you massage your hair or your body, you're relaxing your muscles and letting your blood flow. It wakes you up and something about being clean makes you feel more ready to take on the challenge.

5. Write in a journal

We write to find out what we think. Writing is one of the best ways to be mindful of yourself and your feelings and thoughts. Whenever I'm feeling anxious and can't quite pinpoint why, I write. I describe what I'm feeling, and what things are going on in my life at that moment that could be stressing me out. I make a list of all those things, and try to detail what about each thing is bothering me. But, the most important step is that I go back and write about possible solutions or just words of encouragement about each issue. It's usually incredibly effective. It might seem cheesy, but logically going each of your stressors and taking the time to understand why they're bothering you and how you can go about solving it-- it actually makes a big difference.

6. Watch some television

Distractions aren't all bad. If it's taking your mind off of your anxiety attack, it could actually be quite helpful. Watch whatever you love, but preferably something funny. Comedy and laughing reminds you to take it easy and that life doesn't have to be so serious all the time. Try to relax and unwind your tension. Don't watch a drama or thriller or horror movie, because that'll just stress you out more, most likely.

7. Turn it off

When you can, turn everything off. Zip up your backpack, put your phone on do not disturb, shut down your laptop, and just take a night in. Personal days are incredibly important to your mental health. You cannot be "on" all the time. It just doesn't work that way. And no one expects you to be. No deadline or due date is more important that your mental health and sanity. So, when you can afford it, or when you just really need it, take a day off for yourself. Keeping yourself disengaged from the constant buzz of media, even if it's just for a few hours, provides such a fresh perspective, and a much more positive one at that.

Above all, remember that you are strong and that you can and will get through this. You can do it. If you need more assistance, ask. Always ask for help, never suffer in silence.

For UMich students, consider visiting Counseling and Pyschological Services (CAPS) located in the Michigan Union at the top floor. They have wonderful resources to help you relax, recover, and get help if you need it.

Cover Image Credit: pexels

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When It Comes To Anxiety, 'Fine' Is Never Really Fine

We've just got to live life, as is. There are way more colors of life than simply black and white.

“Darling, I’ve heard it all. You are not fine and don’t try to fake-smile your way out of this one. There’s something wrong and we’re going to get to the bottom of this! Whatever ‘this’ is.”

I realize how naïve I used to be, I used to believe that there was always a cause and effect to this world. That everything was a result of something else.

An ex of mine would completely shut down as we would hang out or even during simple conversation. I would ask the normal question of, “are you OK?” but their response of “yes” or “I am fine” would not reflect their behavior.

Granted, let’s face it the word “fine” is ambiguous. “Fine” can either mean, “I want to strangle my current annoyance until I personally can breathe again,” or it can simply just mean fine. Nonetheless, I used to believe that if there was not anything wrong with someone then that person would not act differently than their normal behavior.

This is not the case, as I did not recognize how wrong I was.

I can’t even remember what we were discussing, but quickly that conversation led to an argument. A one-sided argument that I wanted to win but I didn’t even have an opponent. What I mean by this is that as someone who, at the time had no understanding of anxiety, loudly voiced my frustrations to someone who didn’t even know why they were acting the way that they were.

There was no explanation or reason and as ignorant as I was, I just couldn’t comprehend the lack of one. I constantly asked, “well what’s wrong?” to someone who can feel the way they feel without explanation and warning no matter the stakes.

It took my ex breaking down right in front of me to get the picture.

After we broke up, I vowed to become the person who put themselves first, in regards to the fact that I did not know what love meant much less what it meant to love myself. I found that in order to love myself, I needed to get reacquainted with the person I am.

After years of living through several emotionally abusive relationships, I found myself in a similar situation to that of my ex. I couldn’t place what triggered my emotional unavailability during this current episode but I found that the walls were caving in and I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do.

I found out that I was having an anxiety attack.

As an actual broke college student, I cannot afford therapy nor do I want to. I don’t want to know because I tend to avoid confrontation. Even if it is with myself. I don’t particularly know my prognosis but I do know that I do have anxiety, I do know that there are days where I can wake up completely fine and other days where I cannot get out of bed. For no reason in particular. I was very involved in my community in high school now I loathe social gatherings and meeting new people.

I am not the same person I was — as humans, we’re constantly changing. We’re constantly rearranging and it would essentially be inhuman to remain the same.

Not every cause has a direct effect and not everything has a reason. We've just got to live life, as is. There are way more colors of life than simply black and white.

Cover Image Credit: Michelle Pham

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To Paranoia, The Monster That Drives My Anxiety, You Will Not Win

Do you not understand? You are not me.

You are the reason I get nervous. You cause my overthinking. You make me paranoid with the thought of you returning. Your judgment is the pressure that makes me impulsive.

Judge me. That's what you do best, isn't it?

Judge me for my flaws. For my mistakes. Judge me for the decisions I make, I promise you don’t agree with them. Judge me for not having my life together; because apparently, you do. Judge me for every time I decide to stay quiet.

You are not me. You pretend to be living in my head. I can’t express it enough, nor can I explain it in enough words. You are not me.

Judge me for asking a million questions, I'm hoping your answer is not the same as the past 24 times I’ve asked. Do you think I want this life? The one that causes excruciating pain which I’ve come to tolerate? To live a life without you is a luxury.

Some may call you paranoia, but I consider you a monster that stays with me with every choice I make.

You make me second guess the things I want most and give me reasons to hold back. You are the reason my new years' resolutions fail. The reason I change the answers on my exams from what I originally put to what you tell me I should put instead.

I'm trying to shake you, and I’ve tried it all. Medication, exercise, naps, essential oils, everything, and yet you never leave. I've had doctors tell me I should see a therapist so I can learn how to live without you breathing down my neck.

If I had the option, I would rather forget about you completely rather than suffer with the overthinking.

Hopefully, sometime soon I will find a way to forget you completely.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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