Helpful Ways To Cope With Anxiety
Many college students live with mental health conditions, whether they have generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or are simply struggling with all of lifeâs demands. It can be helpful to understand that you are not the only one with feelings of anxiety, particularly when social media can make it seem like youâre alone. Below are five strategies to help you cope with anxiety.
Get Used To The Change
Is it common to feel sad when your child leaves for college?
Its not uncommon at all to feel sad or anxious when your child leaves for college, whether its your first time or your fifth time. Parents have so much love for their children, and its hard to get used to those children being grown and gone. But thats what its all about: getting accustomed to the differences. Try to approach this change with a growth mindset. This means that instead of looking at a challenge as a limit, youll look at it as an opportunity to grow. How will this change help you grow as a parent or as a partner? How else will your student grow into an adult?
How Anxiety Is Treated On College Campuses
Due to the high prevalence, most college campuses have specialized services in place which are also convenient to access and are usually low cost or free to students. Campus mental health counselors are well prepared to treat anxiety and they are also able to refer students to the health center for a medication evaluation if indicated.
While it is highly treatable, only about one-third of the population seeks treatment for anxiety.4
Some specific ways that anxiety is treated are:
- Therapy: In therapy, you will explore the struggles that you are facing and develop a plan to help you learn to cope with your specific symptoms of anxiety in a healthy way. Some therapy techniques for treating anxiety include cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.
- Medication:Medications are sometimes used to treat anxiety and prevent episodes of severe symptoms. A medical doctor or a psychiatrist can complete an evaluation and determine if medication will be used in your treatment plan.
- Exercise: Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.5
- Natural Remedies:Natural remedies for anxiety, like yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice, good nutrition, support groups, and spirituality can all aid in the treatment of anxiety.
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Depression And Anxiety In College: A Growing Problem
Whether its merely that we as a society are more informed and aware of mental disorders, or that theyre simply becoming more common among people, its been at the forefront of discussions the past few years. As our understanding and overall acceptance deepens surrounding different mental health issues, taking a closer look at those affected has provided some startling statistics.
One particular individual, Jake Heilbrunn, explored these very statistics as he dealt with his own struggles with depression and anxiety. According to Heilbrunn, The New York Times estimates that one-third of all college students have experienced depression so severely that they found it was difficult to function. Also, 46 percent of college students in general have expressed that they felt things were hopeless at least once in the last year.
The horrifying statistics dont stop there either.
Every year, 5,000 people aged 15 to 24 years old commit suicide, a number that has tripled since 1960. It has become the 2nd most common cause of death among college-aged individuals. One in six students has also either been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety disorders. These diagnoses have led to many students experiencing academic difficulties. In fact, a diagnosis of anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health issue on campuses.
There Is Help For Dealing With Anxiety In College
If you find yourself living with anxiety, try engaging in healthy coping strategies. Your college campus likely has mental health resources available to you. A licensed therapist may also be able to help while youâre dealing with anxiety in college.
Remember that if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Keep these hotline numbers handy, too.
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Presenting In Front Of Groups
Unfortunately, getting through college without getting assigned a major presentation is unlikely. While you probably wont be able to talk your way out of the assignment, requesting to practice your presentation beforehand for your professor during office hours will take the edge off. You can even ask if its possible for you to practice in the room that youll be presenting in so that you can get used to the feeling. Running through your presentation a few times in front of other people will help you get into a rhythm so that when it comes to the real deal, youll hopefully be less nervous.
Psychoeducation On College Anxiety
The first step to treating any problem is to understand it – and to understand how common it is.
Many of the teens, and even college students, that we work with at Compassionate Counseling St. Louis feel anxiety about college. Its a whole new level of responsibility, with big expectations, and people often feel a big pressure to succeed and do well.
And because were anxiety specialists, we know how important it is to normalize those feelings of anxiety, stress, and perfectionism.
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Create An Anxiety Playlist
This is a great tip for dealing with anxiety in college that works for a lot of people. Music helps reframe your thinking. If youre someone who really loves music, you can take some time to create a few playlists to listen to. Having the background noise might help you not to feel so anxious when youre studying, or it could be a nice place of refuge to just chill out and listen to some music to help pull you out of the worried headspace that youre in. Heres a few ideas.
A study playlist is a good idea for a few reasons. The music is going to keep the wandering part of your mind occupied so you can devote your attention to absorbing the material instead of allowing your brain to drag you into an anxious spiral about how you might be doing in the class, what the test will be like, or whatever else you might be worried about. Anxiety also makes it difficult to focus. If you listen to the same playlist every time you study, you will train your brain to go into focus mode when it comes on.
Change Your Self Talk
Changing the way that you talk yourself through situations is something that has been at the forefront of mental health conversations for a long time. It is important to be compassionate towards yourself and have patience as you are learning how to deal with anxiety. This is especially important in college when feelings of inadequacy can start to creep on you, even if you know they arent true. In this tip, what were are specifically talking about is not suppressing your feelings, a tip that comes from Dr. Marla Deibler.
Anxiety is weird in the way that it always seems to snowball. It can start with something as simple as missing a few questions on a quiz, or not performing well on one of your assignments. Students put a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed. That is good because you deserve to succeed but if you find yourself spiraling in your thoughts, perhaps youre putting a little too much pressure. So, lets say that you check your score and it isnt what you hoped it would be, and that hollow nauseous feeling fills the pit of your stomach. You didnt do well on this, so how are you going to do well on the test? How is this going to affect your grade? Your GPA? Why didnt you study more? What if you fail the class?
Confronting your anxiety by considering the facts in a situation can help you control your feelings. It can also help you see that your anxiety isnt based on fact so you can differentiate between anxiety and legitimate concerns that you have.
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Additional Support For Anxiety
See Your Doctor to Rule Out a Medical Cause for Anxiety
For some people, physical anxiety signs can have medical causes. Go to your doctor for a checkup. Some medical conditions can cause anxiety-like symptoms. Certain drugs and supplements can also cause anxiety. Medications for asthma, cold remedies, antidepressants and ADHD medications can all cause anxiety. Talk to your doctor about any OTC drugs, prescriptions, supplements and other drugs you are taking.
Group Sports and/or Exercise Classes
Group sports or exercise classes are excellent ways to stay in shape. Group sports and classes are both good ways to get out of the house to make friends. They also help to get your body working and release some of those feel-good brain chemicals. Baseball, football, soccer and basketball are popular group sports choices. Exercise classes, kickboxing, cardio and yoga are some classes many colleges offer their students.
Visit the College Gym
Many college gyms are also health centers for students. They help students face the challenges that stress and anxiety can bring. It can be the perfect place for you to foster healthy habits and focus on self-care. If your gym has health coaches, get one for yourself. Together, you can work out a plan that improves your mental and physical well-being.
Meditation Area/Prayer Rooms
Substance Abuse Support
What Can You Do
If youve already taken the first imperative step of identifying that there is an actual problem and not just everyday anxiety or depression, its time to get to work. While initially it may seem to be a hopeless condition, and so overwhelming you dont know where to start, just know that there are steps you can take to chip away at the issue.
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Getting Help For Social Anxiety Disorder At College
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
If you are struggling with social anxiety disorder at college, it can be difficult to manage the everyday aspects of being a student, such as making new friends and attending classes.
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Spring has sprung and if youre a college senior reading this , graduation is rapidly approaching. The month of May with graduation dates and end-of-college celebrations around the cornerand plans for senior week in full swingmay leave you feeling a mix of emotions including dread, excitement, relief, pride, and fear. If this sounds familiar, experts say youre not alone. And guess what? Having these seemingly contradictory feelings are common and apply whether a job offer awaits you or not.
The good news is, given the low unemployment rate 1 you will eventually get a job. According to the Economic Policy Institute , the unemployment rate among young college grads has fallen to pre-recession levels though still higher than the full-employment economy of 2000.2
Unfortunately, the news isnt as positive regarding the underemployment rate which is 11.1% in 2018 compared with 6.9% in 2000.
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Triggers For Anxiety In College Students
Itâs not surprising that this time of life can be difficult for many young adults. The transition to college life often involves many major life events happening at the same time, including:
- Graduating high school
- Financial independence
- More rigorous coursework
Being away at college doesnât make you exempt from normal life, either. Hard things still happen. Loved ones get sick or pass away, parents get divorced, and breakups happen. These life events can be more overwhelming when youâre already experiencing the stressors of college.
And sometimes, you can be enjoying all that a new chapter of life has to offer and still feel anxious. If you notice that youâre starting to experience chronic anxiety when youâre in college, youâre not alone. In fact, research shows that the first two years of college are the hardest when it comes to social and individual adjustment.
Additionally, many mental health conditions begin to show symptoms in the late teens or early 20s, right when most students are in college. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, stress can contribute to exasperating symptoms of mental health conditions.
Mental And Physical Symptoms
When stress levels are elevated, a person can start to develop certain symptoms, both physical and mental. Physical symptoms of stress may include headaches, back aches, chest pain, ulcers, indigestion, insomnia, muscle tension, and fatigue. Mental signs of stress may be cognitive or emotional. These include feelings of anger, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and forgetfulness. In addition, symptoms can include an inability to concentrate, poor judgment, and forgetfulness.
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Anxiety In College: What We Know And How To Cope
- Luana Marques, PhD, Contributor
Even amid the rush of final exams and graduation celebrations at this time of year, college beckons with the chance to live on your own, find new friends, and explore interesting ideas. Yet for college students as well as high school students and parents craning for a glimpse down the road these changes can also be stressful. Overnight, college students separate from their traditional support system of family and friends. They also face many new challenges, such as living with roommates, managing heavy workloads, and developing an independent identity. Its no surprise that anxiety often spikes during college. So, what do we know about anxiety during the college years? How can you cope if youre facing it? And can you take steps this summer to help you handle anxiety when you head off to or back to a college campus?
Drinking And Substance Use
You might find that you turn to drinking or substance use to get a break from your stressors. You might also engage in these behaviors as you try to make new friends and adjust to a new social culture. This coping strategy is not ideal because it can lead to addiction, and it doesnât actually solve the problem. Heavy drinking even has the potential to cause anxiety and depression.
Additionally, substance abuse can even worsen anxiety over time and vice versa. When you live with both anxiety and alcohol use disorder, the two conditions can progressively exacerbate each other.
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Facts And Statistics About Anxiety In College Students
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2017, more than 18 million students were enrolled in college in the U.S. According to figures compiled by Statista, nearly three out of four of these students have experienced a sense of overwhelming anxiety at some time, and just under 30% report having felt overwhelming anxiety in the previous two weeks. Here are other statistics that examine the impact of anxiety on college students.
Do Universities Make Accommodations For Students With Anxiety
Colleges are required to provide assistance and accommodations to students who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder according to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.6 Some examples of these accommodations include, but are not limited to, additional testing time, audio recordings of lectures and books, and additional time to complete assignments.
In order to qualify for accommodations due to a mental health diagnosis, an application must be submitted through the schools disability office. This process can begin once the student receives their acceptance letter or at any point during their educational experience.
Colleges have different documentation requirements, however, most require a letter from a doctor or mental health professional who is qualified to make a diagnosis, assessments supporting the diagnosis, relevant treatment data, and records of functional limitations requiring accommodations.6
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Control What You Can Relax When You Cant
Like we touched on before, feeling anxious has a lot to do with feeling out of control. Maybe you are a perfectionist, maybe you hate unpredictability, maybe you dont believe that you are capable of doing the things that you need to get done and that makes you feel powerless. There are a lot of things that can make you feel out of control and anxious. As much as it is uncomfortable to deal with, improving your relationship with the idea of control is one way that you can help deal with your anxiety. There are two ways that you can apply this strategy to your life.
Sometimes, you cant do anything right away. Thats frustrating because youre anxiety doesnt really care about that. Youre anxious now. A good example of this is when you submit a paper or finish a test online and youre waiting for it to be graded. Maybe thinking about the results makes you feel anxious. This is where the second part of this strategy comes in and its probably the most difficult part. Relax when you cant control a situation. You submitted the assignment, you cant make your professor grade it any faster, you already did the work, you cant speed up time. Anxiety triggers your body into fight or flight mode even when there is nothing to fight and nothing to run from. Recognize that thats going on and try to let go and focus on something else. A good thing to tell yourself when this type of anxious situation comes up is well cross that bridge when we come to it.