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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To The Girl Who Is Hiding Her Anxiety Behind Her Smile

You are doing yourself more harm than good keeping this to yourself.

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I feel like I have been extremely blessed in how I was raised and the love that was given out to me. I have had amazing friends, good grades, hobbies that have given me inspiration, and overall happiness and thankfulness for the life I am living. But, since the start of college, things slowly shifted into a feeling I had never felt before and funks that I was unable to get myself out of.

Instead of talking about these feelings I was having, I hid it behind a smile and being happier than I truly was. It was easy to cover up my anxiety by giving a lot of love to others and focusing my energy on others happiness instead of my own. I realized this past year that my anxiety had reached a point that was out of my control where I frequently was having panic attacks and always felt so alone and stressed.

I constantly was in my own head about issues I was going through but was too scared to talk to others about it. I worked really hard to be involved and overfill my plate so I didn't have time to think about how unbalanced I always was feeling. It finally hit me this past year when I had several anxiety attacks where I felt as far away from myself than I ever could've imagined. I felt alone and like I was in a hole I wasn't sure how to dig out of. I finally reached out to my mom and had her come up to school to listen to what I had been going through over the past couple of months.

Here is what I learned:

You will never figure anxiety out on your own.

My anxiety got out of control in 2018. I had never felt more singled out and confused about who I was. I was looking for reasons behind why I was feeling the way I was and bottled it up. I kept it to myself because I knew that there were people out there in the world with far greater issues than I.

I didn't want to draw attention to myself for something I thought I could handle, but I couldn't. The path to me finding internal happiness and strength was when I opened up and shared the issues I was having with my mom. I was able to explain and work on creating a plan to figure out how to get back on track and in control of my life. After revealing what I was going through, I had someone on my side. I was no longer alone. I had someone that daily was checking in on me to see how I was feeling and someone to send me inspiration and guide me to doing more things for myself.

You have anxiety, that doesn't mean you are seeking attention.

Like me, you probably are scared to tell others you are feeling different and having panic attacks because you don't want to infringe your problems on someone else, you can see others have issues of their own, and there are far worse things going on in the world than the little anxiety you're dealing with.

Well, you are wrong.

I thought all of those things but dealing with anxiety alone is a huge issue and can create large problems. It is always better to find the support. It is scary to be vulnerable and let others know that you have struggled or are struggling, like this article. But being upfront and honest is the way I have found happiness.

Almost everyone these days goes through something regarding their mental health.

You are not alone. I knew that too, and I was still scared. Your mental health is important to learn about. It is crucial that you know your body and understands what it needs to be happy, have less stress, and live a good life. Everyone is dealing with some sort of inner battle and some just choose to hide it. If you are upfront about what is going on to your loved ones or important people in your life, you could potentially be helping them as well.

Hiding your anxiety behind happiness can do more damage than good.

I truly thought that hiding my anxiety by focusing my love on others would fix my issues. I still deal with that today. I find myself sometimes giving people more love than I give myself and that is something that I realize and am working towards. Hiding your anxiety behind your happiness can do you more harm than good.

Being overly happy and welcoming actually made me feel worse. I always got compliments on how "nice" or "sweet" to others I was and that made me so sad inside that I couldn't feel that way about myself and what I was going through. Hiding your mental wellness can put your farther behind than you want.

My mental health will be something that I am always working on. I know that when I get overly stressed or have arguments with others my anxiety and stress levels will fluctuate. It is an ongoing battle that can easily be handled if we all stay on top of it and read our bodies.


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10 Things No One Tells You About Having To Grieve In College

I wish someone would have shared these with me.

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I still have a hard time writing about it, it's not something I necessarily want to write or think about. Actually, I want to lock it up in the corners of my subconscious and throw away the key.


October 27th 2018 Friday, the weekend before Halloween was the night my close friend overdosed and passed away.

That afternoon, I texted her and asked her to grab lunch with me while I was going to get my nails done. There was a long waiting line, and my nails took longer than expected, by the time I was done, I was tired. I texted her and asked to reschedule, and she wasn't even upset, she just told me to have a nighty night.

Then Saturday I called because we made plans, and it went straight to voicemail. That's weird. You always have your phone on you, let alone charged.

I texted you Monday, then Tuesday and the text bubble was green...I thought it was weird but didn't think too much of it, maybe you were somewhere without wifi.

Then, Tuesday night I get a text from another friend, saying, "how are you holding up?"

My heart sunk, and I knew what he was talking about, without really knowing. I grabbed my computer and logged on to Facebook and searched your name. That's when I started seeing the RIP posts all over your wall.

What a sick joke, I thought.

I call you right away...voicemail.

I sat there staring at my computer, I slowly put my hands over my face. I try to sob quietly, but I can't.


During the first week or so, I felt the worst I've ever felt. It was a combination of my first break up, and uncontrollable tiredness, multiplied by 10. I couldn't sleep, and when I did, it was only for a couple of hours. I was drinking a glass of wine to start and end my day, with some more drinking in between. Everything reminded me of her. I just wanted to go home. My eyes hurt every day for a week because I couldn't stop crying. There was a point I was so numb, I thought I was done crying, and tears kept coming.

I tried going to class, sometimes I could sit through a lecture, but at other times, I just left.

During that first week, there's no use in trying to keep it together. I've only had a couple of out-of-body experiences, and this was one of them. I felt like I was standing next to myself, watching me go through the motions. I don't really remember those two weeks.

This is what I wish someone would have told me:

1. It's going to hurt, and it's going to hurt A LOT.

I was in denial until I went to her wake. I wasn't expecting it to be an open casket, and I almost lost it. Seeing her there, still...I couldn't fathom. My mind didn't understand. That's my friend, she was only 20, we didn't even celebrate her 21st. I was so angry, and guilty. I was angry, because you left me here, and now what am I supposed to do? Fuck dude, I miss you.

2. It's going to feel like you're losing your mind a little.

For those two weeks, my mind felt clouded, it probably didn't help that I was drinking a lot. I blacked out for the first time. I remember trying to do simple tasks, like going grocery shopping, and I couldn't even do it. I would go in with my list, and not know where things were, which is weird because I've shopped at the same place for the past 3 years! Tasks that normally take 20 minutes, were taking an hour. I would try to leave my apartment, and could not find my keys for 20 minutes, just to find out they were in my hand...

I thought I was losing it. I couldn't remember what I did 5 minutes ago, and my mind would just go blank if anyone asked me anything. I think this is what a zombie feels like.

3. There's no right or wrong way to react.

Because of the type of person I am, I didn't want to talk about it. I'm the type of person that keeps everything bottled up until I explode. At this moment, I want to take a moment and thank everyone that texted/called me during this time, it meant a lot, I just wasn't in a place that I could reach out.

There's this pressure to react a certain way when you are grieving. You're supposed to look like shit. I felt like people expected me to act or say certain things, but I couldn't. You're supposed to wear all black or something... honestly, f*ck off. One professor asked me, how long I had known her for, as if it would have mattered? Would you have more apathy if I had known her for 10 years rather than 3? Since I'm not crying, I must not be in pain, right?

Just take your time, if you need to keep yourself super busy, do it. If you need to lock yourself in your room and cry it out, do that too. If you need both, then so be it.

4. Put the bottle of wine down.

I wish my friends could have actually told me to stop drinking before it was too late. I know it seems harmless at first, and it actually helped me when I couldn't sleep, but don't do it. Halloween, I was triggered, and instead of calling it a night, I took shots on my own, which followed by me getting into a fight. Full disclosure, this girl was being a total c-word, so she kind of had it coming. But that's not the moral of the story! The moral of the story is that self-medicating when you're hurting can go really south, really really fast. It doesn't make grieving any easier and only gets you in trouble, tbh. I know my friends were trying to be supportive and thought that drinking couldn't be that bad, but it was.

5. You will be triggered.

Every freaking place reminds me of you. The quad, Devil Dawgs, Starbucks, 1237, McGee's, the list is endless. I couldn't walk through school without having a flashback of every other place. I would start off strong, leaving my apartment was the first step. Then I would see the stu and think of you, and the tears would come. I couldn't help it. I'm lucky that I was able to go home to Florida soon. Had that not been the case, I think I would have had some serious issues. All the memories are going to come back like a disease, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

6. Listen to your body

Wanna workout? Run on the treadmill. Wanna eat desserts? Go to Sweet Mandy's. Wanna stalk your friend's profile? Go for it. Wanna lay in bed and stare at a wall? Play some Amy Winehouse, it helps. I wish I would have been in tune with my body. It may be hard to do so while you're going through it, but try. Don't try to do what you "think" you should be doing, instead try to listen to your body.

7. It's okay to depend on your friends 

Easier said than done. I'm usually the happy, positive person in the group, and for the first time roles reversed. I'm the one that usually has it together, but things hit the fan so quickly. I could no longer handle my anger. I was that drunk friend that you have to take care of and it was weird.

Depend on your friends to write emails for you. Let yourself be vulnerable and let them take care of you. During this time, I found which of my friends are good with this kind of thing. Greta checked up on my every other day, even though she was thousands of miles away in her study abroad. I got to see the best qualities in my group of friends and I will forever be thankful. I also got to see some friends that are actually not that good of friends, but that's life.

8. Let your professors know

A quick email is all it takes. If you want to, or can't, try to talk to the dean of students, or ask your friends to type an email for you. Most professors will be understanding, and even if you think you can power through, letting your professors know will help.

9. You're not going to feel like yourself

You are going to be numb for a while, and that's okay. You're probably going to have a great day, just to follow a night of breakdown. It's okay, let time do its thing.

10. Find your way of coping

So, one of her friend and I got into an argument. I used social media to help me with my grieving, and this girl had the freaking nerve to basically say that the way in which I was coping was wrong. If you're reading this, F U. First of all, she was my friend too, and you're a piece of dirt for questioning my friendship with her.

See, the thing is, my friend overdosed, so it brought up the question of mental illness. In our society, we like to remember the deceased as an angel. Which she was not, she was human. We got into an argument because this girl wanted me to "rephrase" one of my posts about her.


Grieving is hard, let alone in college. You're trying to keep up with your classes, while in a big drinking culture, and it can be a lot to handle. Know that everything will be okay, even if it doesn't seem like it. Take it day by day, and if you need help, each school offers different kinds of help, whether that's a counselor or a referral to talk to someone outside of school.

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