Anxiety sucks. If you nervously clicked on this article, you are OK and I feel for you. I was you. I continue to be you. Maybe the keen awareness of summer's expiration date fills your stomach with dread and swirls your head with worst-case scenarios. I get it.
Anxiety disfigures your perspective. It can feel surreal, especially if you are going into your freshman year of college, to actually see yourself making all of these changes in the next few weeks. You're aware, this time should be exhilarating, but, your anxiety spins positive feelings into negative thoughts. Instead of seeing the endless beginnings and adventures on which you will embark, you focus on an ending, with school is chomping at the bit to devour summer's serenity.
Anxiety is everywhere and in almost everyone. Especially in college. According to the American College Health Association Fall 2018 National College Health Assessment, 63% of your peers are feeling the same way you are. We are all in the same boat, even if it feels like you're alone on the Titanic. I can speak for myself, nerves and university go hand-in-hand. I have had my fair share of panic attacks and I've gone through half of my college years (shoutout to the class of 2021)! Guess what? I've made it through to tell the tale with a smile. If I can do it, bud, you can too!
Anxiety demands action. Face the facts. You cannot be content with constantly feeling "on edge." The first step to coping with the chemical imbalance in your brain is admitting that there might be something up with your neurotransmitters, which you've already done by seeking help! Bravo! Now, here are four tips I have gathered from my two years as a college student and twenty years as a human. For the sake of being hella cute and memorable, I have created the acronym C.A.L.M. — with each letter representing a piece of advice on anxiety. So, whenever you feel the instability of your situation, recall: CALM.
Anxious doesn't mean alone. Sincerely, I hope this article helps with whatever you're going through. You may feel like you're not ready for the world, but it is the world that isn't ready for you.
C: Check in
Check in with your support system as needed. Mom, Dad, old friends, siblings, or a mentor - these people all are on your team, even if you've moved away from them. Keep them updated and communicate. Plus, it doesn't always have to be serious conversations with them. Humor helps. People are liberated by laughing. Make funny friends or watch your favorite comedy, however you find support!
A: Adopt uncertainty
Adopt uncertainty while you're young. Everything is new when you don't have many years underneath your belt. Once you accept this aging reality, nothing seems unnaturally scary. Get comfortable in discomfort!
L: Look ahead
Imagine your best future self. Your best self is your happy self. Though underutilized, visualization is a powerful tool against anxiety. Whenever you feel those pins and needles of panic stopping you from being who you want to be, practice self-talk and meditation to solve the mindset problem — this idea will get you on your way to becoming who you were always meant to be!
M: Maintain yourself
When you go into college, the "go-go-go!" lifestyle can take a toll without you realizing it. There's a reason why burnout and anxiety are usually spoken in the same breath. Some alone time for reflection every single day, even for ten minutes, can ground you. You can practice this self-care in the shower, laying in bed before you sleep, or on a run. Yes, exercise. Buzzkill, I know. However, it worked wonders for me. I can't credit a more simple way to alleviate mental stress besides exerting physicality and getting your endorphins pumping.