6 Things I Leaned About Anxiety In College

6 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Anxiety In College

For many teens going to college as freshmen, it can be one of the most difficult moments in their lives, yet another fresh start. College can be an important, impactful journey to future success, but it can also be the main source of unhealthy stress for many students.

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In college, mental illness remains a taboo subject. As an upcoming freshman, I spent the entire summer searching for any type of advice available that would help me prepare for the most challenging part of life. I was very disappointed to see that there was not much coverage on the subject of anxiety in college. It's time for us to break that stigma. The more we talk about it, the more empathetic we will all become.

1. You are not alone. 

I'm sure you've heard this before, but you will not always feel like you're a little fish in a big pond. Anxiety for freshman is a common but unspoken problem. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that 41.6% of college students stated anxiety as the top presenting concern among college students. The American Psychological Association has found that 61% of college students have sought counseling who report anxiety.

For me, I felt like no one understood the overwhelming stress I was dealing with even months before starting college. I automatically thought about the worst case scenario for every possible situation, and I was afraid of being the typical freshman who was still figuring things out. That was when I began to talk to friendly, accepting people. I never thought I would find anyone who would understand, but there is a group of people for everyone. You can't go the whole year avoiding people. So be a friendly face and positive influence, and then you'll find people you connect with. Everyone needs a support system!

2. Get involved!

My first day of college was something I had feared since the beginning of my senior year. I wanted to be the best at everything: the best daughter, sister, singer, leader, friend, and student all at once. When the year ended, I knew what career path I was on, but I felt empty. I was searching for something to be a part of. For me, my high school chorus was my comfort, and I desperately needed something that would bring back that balance. I joined UWG's Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society club to find other English majors to relate and look up to, and sure enough, I met people who welcomed me with open arms. I joined Odyssey at UWG as a creative outlet for me, something I wanted to do outside of academics. That's very important.

Try to get involved in some way at your college, whether that's volunteering for a day or doing something as simple as attending an event on campus. This will not only get you well-acquainted with the college atmosphere, but it will also become incredibly rewarding in the end.

3. Balance is key.

Leave some time for yourself. Self-care is so incredibly important, especially if you struggle with stress often. Plan out what you want to accomplish academically, then choose at least 15 minutes doing something you enjoy. Read. Write. Listen to music. Take a relaxing bath. Walk around the campus. By setting aside time for yourself, it can give some space for breathing room in the midst of the chaos.

4. Anxiety is a cycle. 

Rachel Hicks from grownandflown.com said it best: "With any change comes uncertainty, and uncertainty quickly breeds anxiety." While anxiety can never disappear forever, there are ways to cope with it, ways to deflect those intrusive, toxic thoughts from ruining your day. The Headspace app provides easy meditation and breathing exercises, and taking just five minutes out of your day to de-stress will do wonders for your mental stability.

5. There is more than one way to deal with anxiety.

There are two main coping strategies when it comes to releasing built-up anxiety: calming energy and burning off energy. Calming energy involves things that calm racing thoughts while providing comfort, such as taking a bath, praying, or taking five deep breaths. Burning off energy involves channeling that anxious energy into some kind of physical or mental action, like taking a walk, making a hot cup of tea, or creating a project for yourself. I found that since I often get overwhelmed, doing simple tasks like writing down my plans for the day or looking through my notes is extremely relaxing. Also, a way that I burn off that anxious energy is singing in the car because it can be fun and cathartic at the same time.

6. Don't be afraid to say no.

This is something I still struggle with. Being assertive doesn't always mean being stubborn or demanding. For instance, if you don't want to hang out with a friend and just need alone time, tell them honestly but respectfully. It is better to find that balance than to constantly stress about making sure everyone likes you. You don't have to put all of your energy into satisfying people's needs. Do what is most comfortable for you.

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9 Metaphors That Describe Anxiety To Non-Anxious People

Anxiety is difficult to explain, and even more difficult to understand.
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Everyone experiences anxiety in one form or another. However, there is a large difference between having an anxiety disorder and feeling anxious every now and then. For instance, it is pretty common and typical for someone to be anxious before they take an exam, but becoming so anxious that they don't eat and decide to not show up to the exam at all could be a sign that that person has a disorder. Anxiety disorders themselves range from being mild to severe, and it can also depend on what triggers a person experiences and how often. In short, anxiety is a broad term that ultimately depends on the individual.

It can be difficult to describe anxiety to someone who has never truly experienced it like the people who have disorders do. Social media is full of attempted explanations, but there are still those people who tell us to "get over it," "don't think about it so much," and "there's no reason to be anxious." One of the biggest misunderstandings about having anxiety is that most of the time we know that there isn't any real reason to be anxious, and that our minds are overreacting. The thing is, though, it just feels impossible for us to turn it off and think logically in that moment. There's not a whole lot we can do.

Since that can still be confusing, I've compiled a list of metaphors and analogies that might make a little more sense to those who have never truly experienced anxiety before.

1. Anxiety is when you leave the house and feel like you have forgotten something but can't remember what it is, and worrying about it all the time.

2. Anxiety is the mini heart attack you receive when you're walking down the stairs and miss a step, but your heart never calms down and the butterflies remain in the pit of your stomach.

3. Anxiety is when you are watching a scary movie and you know something is about to pop out and scare you, but it never does, so you just keep waiting for it to happen.

4. Anxiety is taking the phrase "step on a crack, you'll break your mom's back" way too literally, and having to focus on where you step each time you go for a walk.

5. Anxiety is not knowing whether or not someone is being rude or just sarcastic, so you constantly wonder how they feel about you.

6. Anxiety is the feeling that someone is following or watching you, even though no one is ever there.

7. Anxiety is diving deep underwater, then swimming back up to the surface, but the surface is farther away that it seemed so you suddenly feel as if you are about to drown.

8. Anxiety is feeling like every day tasks, such as taking a shower, might result in your harm, even though reality tries to convince you otherwise.

9. Anxiety is the fear of fear.

Again, some of these might not apply to everyone that has anxiety, because anxiety is so different for everyone. I know that there are probably a million different ways to describe anxiety based on what each individual person is anxious about, so this list is just a start. If you are reading this and have anxiety, I hope you find comfort in the fact that someone can relate to what you feel. If you are reading this and don't consider yourself an anxious person, I hope that this gives you a better understanding of what people experience when they say they have an anxiety disorder. Either way, remember that whatever it is you're anxious about, the storm will always pass. Stay strong.

Cover Image Credit: Bustle

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10 Quotes To Put Your Current Existential Crisis To Rest

Beautiful words for times of dread.

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From the beginning of time, humanity has always asked the big questions. Sometimes, however, these thoughts can lead to anxiety and uncertainty about life, death, and all that happens in between.

Here are some beautiful words I've turned to during times of existential dread.

1. "Here's to all the places we went. And all the places we'll go. And here's to me, whispering again and again and again and again: iloveyou." — John Green

2. "Our ancestors worshipped the sun, and they were not that foolish. It makes sense to revere the sun and the stars, for we are their children." — Carl Sagan

4. "Remember, remember, this is now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to be acutely aware of all I've taken for granted." — Sylvia Plath

5. "From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity." — Edvard Munch

6. "Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place." — Iain Thomas

8. "Embrace the void and have the courage to exist." — Dan Howell

9. "It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the gentle indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I'd been happy, and that I was happy still." — Albert Camus

Let these words bring you hope and comfort, and know that you are not alone.

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