I'm finding that there's a common question throughout freshman here at Mississippi State: why am I suddenly careening backwards mentally when I thought I knew how to deal with my mental illness before I came? These are a couple tips that can help steer yourself back on track to the way you felt before move in:
1. Get Involved In Activities that Interest You
One of the biggest shocks of going to college is starting over COMPLETELY. For anyone who relies on a set schedule to combat their anxiety, this empty palette of possibilities can prove daunting and, frankly, nerve wracking. Fortunately, with this empty schedule, students can find and join the activities and clubs that they're ACTUALLY interested in. The clubs on campus meet fairly frequently and on schedule, so things that you genuinely enjoy can become a regular part of your scheduled routine.
2. Make Friends in Your Residence Hall
Another huge source of stress your freshman year, or any year, can be moving into a building knowing absolutely no one. If you tend to be a little more introverted, it can be hard adjusting to living with a bunch of strangers, but it can actually turn into something really comforting. The more you make an effort to get to know your dorm mates, the more connections you can build to people that live in the closest proximity to you (the people that will be there the fastest and closest if something happens). When you get to know the people that live around you, you can find a completely new source of friendship and stress relief.
3. Take Classes for FUN
One of the disadvantages of high school is a set schedule that the majority of everyone has to take. Well, in college, none of that applies! You have the option to take whatever classes pique your interest at any time you choose. I know most people would probably assume that they have to stay insanely close to their career paths, but electives serve a purpose at a big university like this! There are multitudes of one credit, less strict, and fun classes that we offer to break up the monotony and difficulty of a freshman year schedule. If you're here on scholarship, it covers up to NINETEEN credit hours worth of classes. So, use the money you're given to its fullest!
4. Focus on Your Mental Health
I know for a lot of people that have anxiety, blocking it out seems to be the best way to cope. However, doing this can possibly be the worst thing you can do for yourself. Luckily, on campus, we have a lot of options that are FREE for people with anxiety and other mental health issues: i.e. the counseling center. Also, take time out of your schedule to make time for yourself. Put on a face mask, sing, dance, watch a movie, or do whatever makes you happy for at least an hour a day. I know that seems like a lot on a busy schedule, but doing something that you enjoy for an hour is going to significantly better how you feel.
5. Get Sleep
Everything that I have previously recommended WILL NOT WORK if you don't supplement it with sleep. Trying to keep up with no sleep is only going to stress you out more, so even though you might have to stay up and study, do so with discretion.
6. Do what Makes YOU Happy
The main point of college is coming to do what you want to for the rest of your life. THIS is truly what matters. It's much easier to not stress if you enjoy the classes, the activities, and the clubs that you enjoy rather than what someone else wants for you. Keep yourself in mind, always.
Hopefully, if you follow these steps loosely, you'll find a way to reduce your anxiety here your first year and create time to make yourself, in general, happier.