DIY Self-Care Guide For College Students Living With Anxiety

DIY Self-Care Guide For College Students Living With Anxiety

Wherever you are out there, you're doing great.

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Your anxiety does not define you-- but, I know it takes a toll. I'm a fighter myself, on my own journey. Here are some tips and tools that I use that might help you, too.

1. Identify the trigger.

One of the most important things to do when confronted with any type of anxiety is identifying the trigger. It could be something personal in your life-- a relationship, body image issues, social interactions, past relationships, or really anything that could affect a person either consciously or subconsciously. It could even be as simple is the cumulative stress that you're feeling in school, no matter how happy you may be.

The first step in reducing the onset anxiety is to identify the root issue and what is causing it to stir up. Once you know your triggers, you can learn your coping methods as well as the things that help you over those hurdles more effectively and smoothly. If possible, you can even learn to avoid such triggers if they are toxic and unnecessary to your abundance in life.

2. Take action!

Once you have identified your own personal anxiety trigger(s), you then can begin efficiently taking action and swiftly kicking you anxiety's ass. I don't even mean mental action, necessarily. While that is certainly the place to start from, sometimes the initial distressed mind is not the brain you wanna be talking to yourself with. Something that I've noticed in my own personal experience is that I have a habit of shriveling up and internalizing when I am anxious. My immediate fight-or-flight instinct says to run, when really; 99% of the time there's nothing to run from.

One of my best pieces of advice that I feel I can give ever is to actually take physical action if you're feeling the burdens of anxiety creeping in. Whether that is going to the gym, turning on your favorite jams that make you feel like you, dancing in your room, going out with friends, doing your homework, doing your laundry, doing a facemask, treating yourself, watching a movie, going to a new club/activity on campus, or just doing what's right in front of you. It can be anything-- anything that has a better chance of getting you out of your own head than ruminating over your irrational thoughts ever will.

3. Prioritize.

All of the above being said, don't worry about "doing things" to much to the point where it stresses you out more. If you need to, make a list of what you need to do on any given day if you really just need to take a break for your own mental health. Here's the list of things that I prioritize: 1) Myself, 2) Sleep, 2) Enough Food, 3) Brain Power, and 3) What-I-Absolutely-Need-to-do-in-This-Day.

Something that often happens when humans feel overwhelmed is that we feel like everything in the world needs to get done, be fixed, be cured, be alright, and have answers. This is a fiction made up by our sensitive hearts and brains in reaction to our anxiety. It is not a truth, and it is not up to you. If you are struggling, take things day by day. Enjoy the moment. Be gentle with yourself. Do what is needed for you survival, your health, and your happiness.

4. Accept your anxiety for what it is.

It's important to remember that, unfortunately, about 50% of the world knowingly suffers from anxiety. There is nothing about your anxiety that makes you incapable, an outsider, ostracized, or less than. You are enough.

It's also important to recognize that you need to, in a way, become friends with your anxiety. It is a part of you, at least for this moment. If you need to have a sit down talk with yourself and your anxiety just to say, "hello. I recognize that you are present. I understand why you are here, but you are not in control of my life", then that is totally acceptable! The only way that you are ever going to grow from it and move forward is to accept yourself with your anxiety. It's just another one of those imperfections that makes you human and beautiful.

5. Come to terms with the fact that you are the one in control.

One of the biggest things that will make an uneasy person feel even more helpless is feeling out of control. Sometimes the spiral gets so uncontrollable and deprecating that we start to feel like it is no longer our battle to fight. This is not true. If you've come up from it once, you already know you have the strength. If you're having your first mental breakdown (hopefully these things will prevent you from this if it hasn't already occurred), then it is imperative that you become aware that you are so much stronger than you think.

Your anxiety is in your head, and that's what makes it so difficult. Yes it manifests through somatic and physical symptoms, but it is a sickness of the mind. You have to right to take care of yourself. You have the right to heal yourself. Take the reins of your life, tell yourself what you know is the truth and grab ahold of that abundance you know you are worthy of.

6. Be careful of where you put your energy…especially if you’re an empath.

Ugh!! This is so important!! Not only am I someone who has struggled with anxiety, but I am also an Enneagram Type 2 who is an extreme empath (and proud to be one). It is not surprising that these things all go hand in hand. One of the things that I've learned a lot about being an empath with anxiety is that it is all too easy to overextend, co-depend with people, and experience other people's pains, fears, and worries. It is crucial that you develop the ability to distinguish your own feelings and needs from those needs and feelings of others. This is way easier said than done if you are a person who feels energies and vibes as strong as a physical touch.

It is absolutely necessary to your mental health for you to pick and choose your battles. Yes, you are an empath. Yes, you care about other people deeply. Yes, you want to help. However, you need to understand that you cannot give the help that you want to if you are not first fully loving and taking care of yourself and your needs. Set your boundaries very clearly, and know when it has become out of your own control to help another person. These experiences affect your mental health and your personal anxiety more than you probably realize.

7. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is essentially the practice of accepting and enjoying the moment. It's a practice of being present, and it has become one of my most treasured remedies for anxiety in my own personal life. Some things you can do literally whenever (such a perk) to practice mindfulness are listed below

  • Identify one thing in the present moment that can be assigned to each of the 5 senses: smell, touch, sight, hearing, taste.
  • Do a body scan and notice what things feel tense, loose, out of place, or any other general state of being. Begin to focus on releasing the parts of the body that feel tense.
  • Close your eyes, touch an object that is available in your present moment, and soak it in.
  • Recognize the moment that you in, take a deep breath, and accept yourself in the present.

Mindfulness is literally one of the best things ever and I'm so glad to be a missionary of its existence! Breathe in, breathe out. You got this.

8. Accept that it’s okay not to have the answers.

Alright… this is a big one. I am one of the biggest culprits of being a worry wart as it pertains to this very issue. One of the most common things that an anxious person does is worry about literally everything that is unknown or in the future. Feeling anxious can basically compare to driving in a dark tunnel with a blindfold on without knowing if there's a cliff at the end. We want to know every single answer to our lives, fix every single thing, and solve every single problem there is in the world. Well, sorry to tell you irrational brain-- but you're probably not gonna know who is going to marry you within the next day.

This is a great place where mindfulness can come into play, also. If you're finding that your mind is piling up with these obsessive thoughts and keeping you from even getting the answers you're so desperately searching for, then you must take a breath. You must realize where you are in your own process, and stop comparing it to everyone else's journey. You must realize that, again, it is not in your power to cure every single bad thing in the world. You must realize that you have so much life to live, and that life is for learning. It's okay. It's okaaayyy. I promise.

9. Journal.

Okay so, this is one of my favorite things to do in general. That being said, it really does help with sorting thoughts out. I'm serious when I say that if your brain just feels like it's a bunch of staticky, white noise; journaling will probably help you align all of that chaos up there.

Also, keep in mind, journaling does not need to be some pretty, organized thing. It's beautiful in it's messiness, just like you. ;) You can write about anything. Your day, your favorite memories, what's really going on and setting you aflame, that guy you've had a crush on but just haven't told anyone, anything. This is also a great place to begin to identify your anxious triggers if you are struggling. It's also just awesome. So, yeah.

10. Seek Help!

Please, please, PUH-LEASE seek out help. Even if you are not dying or going through a complete mental breakdown, I would still strongly consider it. Among other options, there are things like: psychotherapy, medication, and more natural things like CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulation) that is one of my favorites. I'll put the link below this paragraph. I am in talk therapy, and let me tell you-- I love it. It's great, and it makes you more aware of what's going on and how to handle it. Then, once you know how to tackle it-- that's half of the battle. Most colleges and places have services where you can get insight/psychotherapy, and if they don't; there is somewhere you can find it. Please do. It's so worth it. You are worth it.

I am not a clinical psychologist nor am I a licensed therapist, so I can only do what I can do by sharing my own personal nuggets and tools with you! Don't be afraid. Break the stigma. Go get that self-care.

https://www.drdiane.com/ces-device-treating-anxiet...

11. Read Self-Care Books!

Okay, real talk. One of my favorite authors ever is Sylvester McNutt. He's honest, vulnerable, raw, and relatable in his writing. He does not sugar coat his truth and the truth of humanity. Here are some of his phenomenal books that I've read below:

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/books/care-package-a-path-to-deep-healing

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/books/this-is-what-real-love-feels-like

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/books/lust-for-life-1-ktcl7

Also, here are his main social media handles, because he's just amazing. Yes.

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/

&

Instagram: sylvestermcnutt

Okay. I will now get off of my soap box.

12. Listen to Dear Evan Hansen.

Okay... It doesn't even matter whether or not you're a musical theatre person to enjoy this musical. It's beautiful, honest, hilarious, considerate, accurate, and so promotional to the mental health of our generation today. Also, it's my favorite show ever. I think you can see why.

Link to the cast album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO1dAwW-wUk

And to their website: https://dearevanhansen.com/

14. Lastly and most importantly, know that you are not alone!

Out of everything I've said, this is the most important!!! You are not alone. You are enough. Your anxiety does not define you. You are valid. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. There are so many people in your struggle with you, myself included. Never be afraid to reach out.

Also, I know you may not believe it but your anxiety is actually something that attributes to the beautiful, complex human being that you are. You're anxious. So what. It's because you are a living, breathing, feeling, empathetic, caring person who yearns to find every bit of meaning there is to find in life. What you need to do now is recognize the strength in your anxiety, and use it to your advantage. Use it as an asset. As a superpower. Use it to help yourself. Use it to help the world. You are you. The beauty, the ugly, all of it-- and that is enough.

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I Asked Hundreds Of People How They Cope With Anxiety And Depression, Here's What They Had In Common

Old, new, and out of the blue. This is what everyday people do to cope with their anxiety and depression.

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Anxiety and depression can ruin some of the best days of your life, or every day in general. When I reached out to social media, I got some of the best advice I've ever received. Maybe it's so great because it's not coming from a therapist, the internet, or a figure of authority that I may feel doesn't "understand" what people with mental health issues go through.

These responses were raw, real, and used on a daily basis by people ranging from 16-28 years of age. I took their answers and made them into more broad responses, and this is what they said.

1. Nature Walks 

Sometimes all it takes is a walk through the woods to help you see life clearly. Anxiety and depression among many other mental illnesses are caused by things that happen in hectic everyday life situations. If you separate yourself from society, it can do wonders.

2. Delete all social media for a week

Among many other things, this would help you stop setting social media standards for yourself and your life. The standards set by social media cause worry, insecurity, and at times insanity.

3. Find something you look forward to after a 10/12 hour work day

When it feels like you are working your life away, it can get depressing and maybe even make you a little anxious. If there is something other than work to look forward to in your life, it could give new meaning to waking up every day. Finding hobbies isn't always easy, but even if you don't seem fit for any particular hobbies there is no bad place to start.

4. Learn how to breathe/count your breath 

This is simple and one of the best tricks in the book.

5. Reading

Reading can take your mind off things for quite some time, especially if you pick up a good motivational/ self help book. By reading, your mind is engaged in another reality rather than what is going on in the outside world. Other than being a distraction books can help you learn about anything you could possibly think of.

6. Don't be scared to let it out, someone will listen 

Finding a good friend that you can trust with your mental health issues is important. Often people are afraid to talk to someone. They are scared that they will not understand or they will dismiss their emotions. This is where having a good friend or finding a good friend comes in handy. This is also one of the benefits of social media, you can connect with people going through the same things you are. Be sure to utilize that.

7. Keep busy

If you don't give your mind time to wonder, often it will just stay focused on the task at hand.

8. Weight lifting 

When I was younger this was especially helpful for me to do. Weight lifting gives you a hard physical task and can possibly distract your mind from whatever is bothering you. By working out you are bettering yourself physically and mentally. You are building mental strength by pushing yourself to continue a workout, which in turn can help you combat your mental health in the future.

9. Tending to plants after work or just sitting in peace with them

Growing up, my Papa had a garden. We took care of it, admired it, sat in the middle of it and ate strawberries until we were sick. Having a garden is a goal of mine and that is only one of the hundreds of reasons why. Being able to come home from school or work, take care of something that is living and that is yours, and admiring all the hard work and beauty that comes out of it is priceless. Aside from being priceless, it can also provide a distraction or a calm setting to spend time in.

10. Listen to music

Listening to music and even playing music can be such a positive gateway. Music activates things in your mind that other activities don't touch.

11. Writing 

Writing is something that I've always used as a stress reliever. As much as you may have hated writing in high school or college, you won't know if it helps to do it willingly until you try it. When I write, everything else around me disappears. I get to sit down, focus my thoughts on one thing, and write whatever I want. I can display every emotion, good and bad that I feel.

12. CBD oil or other CBD products 

The proof is in the science.

13. Medication

If you are thinking about getting medicated I want you to know there is no shame in that. We have to stop treating mental illness like it's not a serious problem in society. It is, people do need real help, and it is a real thing.

14. Therapy

Just like I said for medication, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. At one time or another, everyone I know has been to some kind of therapy.

15. Yoga

Although I've never been able to be dedicated to yoga, I know it works wonders for my peers. You can find yoga tutorials on YouTube and videos for beginners or experts. Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation, and you can find that on YouTube as well.

16. Validate your own feelings 

It's important to stay away from a cycle of thinking you are overreacting because that's what social media and society say. It's OK to be sad or hurt from something, as long as you don't let it consume your entire life. If it begins to do so, reaching out for help isn't a bad idea. Neither is searching for new coping techniques.

17. Grounding, or counting all objects near you 

This is a good way to bring your mind back to what's happening in the now, instead of letting your mind wonder to the future or the past.

18. Walking your dog/getting a dog

Aside from dogs, people said they spend time with their horses and cattle too. Having an emotional support pet was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. My dog isn't registered as an emotional support dog, but he's become that and more. Getting your pet registered means that you can take them into public places where other animals that aren't registered are not allowed, which is what I personally recommend.

19. Simple distractions

Watching a movie or hanging out with friends can distract your mind from the bad when it starts to take over. If you catch it in an early stage and decide to go hangout with friends instead of letting it grow and fester, it could save your day.

I'm no expert, but if you know a friend with anxiety or depression some of these techniques may be something they've never tried or heard of. You may have friends that you have known your entire life, yet you have no idea that they possess a mental illness. Be nice to your peers, friends, and family. You never know what they are going through.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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