Conquer Your Anxiety and Win at College

If you’re a college student, you might find yourself battling anxiety at some point. This is especially true your freshman year, when you’re dealing with a major life transition (and the sudden increase in responsibilities that come with it). A 2014 survey by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that 55 percent of college students who met with a counselor did so for anxiety. And all that anxiety doesn’t just impact mood—anxiety can affect how you do in school, relationships with friends and ability to sleep. However, with the right outlook and support system, you can figure out where your anxiety comes from and how to overcome, helping you succeed both in and out of the classroom.

  1. Find out what’s going on: Talking with a counselor at your college’s mental health center can help determine if you’re feeling anxious because of a single situation (a group project or an internship interview) or if you have a more generalized anxiety disorder. Knowing what kind of anxiety you have helps determine the best treatment plan.
  2. Set small goals: Feeling overwhelmed is a big cause of anxiety for college students, which is why it’s important to feel like you’re making progress towards accomplishing what you need to get done. This is why it’s a good idea to set achievable goals for yourself. This gradually empowers you to make bigger goals, and take bigger steps toward quieting your anxious thoughts.
  3. Talk to people you trust: Saying what’s on your mind keeps you from internalizing all of your thoughts and feelings. A good friend or family member can help by being a friendly ear and, if you want it, offer advice. Talking about your experiences out loud to someone you trust is a way to be open and candid in a judgment-free space (and is a positive alternative to other coping mechanisms, like alcohol).
  4. Become a planner: Anxiety can go up when you’re expected to think and act on the fly—something that you have to do all the time in college. Before going into a class where you’ll have to participate in a discussion, write down your thoughts and ideas ahead of time so that you feel as prepared and confident as possible.

How have you overcome your anxiety in college? Share your story in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Francisco Osorio

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