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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You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

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A Day In The Life Of A College Student Who Has Anxiety

You know it isn't a big deal, but your anxiety doesn't.


You wake up an hour earlier than you meant to, and you know you'll be falling asleep halfway through your first class of the day, but you can't sleep now. Not since you've seen that your alarm will be going off in an hour anyway. You can already feel the twisting in your stomach, the anticipatory anxiety as you contemplate your plans for the day.

You climb out of bed and walk over to your dresser, where you keep the bottle of pills that keep you from having panic attacks between classes. The medication really does help sometimes, but it's hard to suppress something like anxiety. All you have to do is let yourself think about anything—a certain person, a plan you made with a friend, a memory, even a song. Boom, your stomach hurts and you feel those familiar trills in your chest, the jitters in your fingers, the numbness that makes you think maybe you're going to have a heart attack this time.

You take the pill with a couple sips of water, then get dressed. Your outfit for the day is already lying out on the top of the dresser—you can't fall asleep at night until you've got everything ready for the morning. You leave your residence hall 45 minutes before your first class. Not because you plan on getting breakfast (you can't eat in the mornings because anxiety turns your stomach into what feels like a vat of boiling acid), but because you're too anxious to show up to class right on time. What if you fall on the way? What if a sidewalk is closed? What if the bus doesn't show up? There are too many variables for you to justify leaving anything to chance.

You are tired when you get to your class building, but you can't just grab a cup of coffee. That caffeine would turn you into even more of a mess, and that isn't what you need today. You're all too familiar with the chest pain and trembling that comes along with caffeinated drinks. Just water for you today.

Once class starts (30 minutes after you reach the classroom), you feel okay. Finally, a reprieve from the feeling that you're either going to vomit or experience a chest explosion. Obviously, you prepared for class. Your homework is done, although the quality of your work really depends on how bad your anxiety was when you did it—did you spend time really trying to comprehend the work, or did you just do it as quickly as you could so you could tick that assignment off your to-do list?

At lunch, you know you should eat, so you grab a plate of whatever they're serving in the dining hall today. Your friend already has a table, bless her, so you set your plate down and push your broccoli around while you wait for your stomach to settle. You take small sips of water in the meantime, listening to your friend talk about her day.

"Oh," she says, "are we still going to that concert tonight?"

Oh no. At some point in the great race to do all your homework last night, you'd forgotten to jot down your concert plans in your planner. A stupid mistake.

"Yes," you say, pretending everything is okay, but already this spontaneous change in today's plan has ensured that you won't be eating lunch today.

Your last class is a small one, a discussion-based class. You rarely work up the courage to speak, and that poses a problem for your participation grade. It isn't that you don't have anything to say—you read the class text and always find interesting points in the reading. You just feel an encroaching panic attack whenever you consider speaking up, and you're too nervous to inform your professor of your anxiety. Participation is only 15% of your grade, so you can still get a B even if she gives you a zero for not speaking up. You use this rationalization to convince yourself you don't have to talk to her.

You have three hours between your last class and the concert, so you decide to spend two hours studying and give yourself an hour for dinner with your friend. You're finally a little hungry, so you buy a bag of chips from the little store by the Student Union. You snack on these while you study, but the closer you get to the concert, the more anxiety you have.

The concert is at six, and by five o'clock you can barely breathe. You're very aware that it's just a concert, and you're probably going to enjoy it. You know your friend will be there, so you won't be alone. You know it isn't a big deal. But your anxiety doesn't care. You can rationalize about it all you want, but your chest will still ache and you'll still feel lightheaded.

When you meet your friend at the dining hall again, you realize your anxiety has been a little alleviated now that you're not alone to think about the concert. You're able to eat an entire ham sandwich and a salad. You and your friend finish up dinner and you're feeling better. So long as you're not stuck in your anticipation, you're fine.

At a quarter to six, you and your friend head to the building where the a capella group will be performing. As you expected, the concert is great and you enjoy yourself. It's over at 7:30, so your friend heads back to her apartment and you return to your residence hall. You shower and then sit down to do some more homework. Now that you're done for the day, you can eat, so you snack on a banana and a granola bar.

When you've done all your homework, you brush your teeth and set out tomorrow's outfit. You take another of your pills. You spend several minutes trying to make sure you haven't forgotten something important, then you get into bed. You don't have any extraordinary plans for tomorrow, but for some reason, as soon as your head hits the pillow, you feel that familiar turning in your stomach.

After 30 minutes of hopelessly lying completely still in an attempt to tire out your overactive brain, you sigh and get out of bed. You rifle through your dresser and grab your bottle of melatonin. You take one of the tiny tablets, then get back under your covers. Tomorrow will be easier.

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