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Mental Health

How I Manage My Anxiety In College

Having anxiety is already pretty exhausting, but when you combine that with daily college stress, it can often feel suffocating and unmanageable. I have had anxiety for a long time, even before high school, but I was first diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) by a psychiatrist when I was in 9th grade, when it got out of control. I was having anxiety attacks frequently, I was nervous all the time, I couldn’t sleep, I was biting my nails until they bled, and my hair started falling out. Finally, my father decided to take me to the doctor, and she not only gave me medicine, but also extremely helpful tips on how to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. So here is a list that I have created, based on her advice and my own experience, on how to deal with anxiety and stress. These things have helped me so much in college and I hope I can pass it beyond. Before you continue, know that if you believe you have an anxiety disturb like I do, or if your stress has been getting very bad, please contact a doctor as well.


1. Eat healthier 

It may sound like those standard doctor recommendations, but I have noticed how the way I eat affects my mood and well being. The difference of how I go through my day when I have had a nice, healthy, light meal, versus when I eat fried, unhealthy, heavy food is as clear as the daylight.

Eating better will make you feel better, be more positive and feel energetic. This can be as essential as coffee when you have to wake up early and go to class.


2. Go to the gym     

Exercising is such a stress reliever. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, hormones that not only makes you feel more positive and happy but also reduces the sensation of pain in the body.

There are so many options: you can run, jump rope, do an intense circuit or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) , swim, dance, go for a jog… You just need to choose which one fits you the best.

Additionally, it will make you feel better about your body, increasing self esteem and positivity.


3. Do relaxation exercises

Even with medicine, healthy eating and exercise, sometimes things can still get overwhelming; and that’s when being able to relax yourself comes in clutch. I particularly like to do yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.

If you need a way to quickly relax, do the 5-square breathing exercise. It’s easy:

  1. Inhale through your mouth for 5 seconds.

  2. Close your mouth and hold your breath for 5 seconds.

  3. Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds.

  4. Close your mouth and hold your breath for 5 seconds.

  5. Repeat it many times until you feel calmer.


4. Get some good sleep

Sleeping can be very hard when your mind is flooded with thoughts. You may even lay down in bed in the complete darkness but you will spend hours and hours awake. To overcome that, I have my own “pre bed ritual”. First, I turn off the light and leave only a lamp on. The dimmer lighting makes your body aware that it should not be fully energized. Then I make myself some hibiscus tea – apparently it helps lowering blood pressure and consequently relaxes you, but you may drink other types of tea or hot drinks. Then, I sit in my bed, and read a book or scroll through facebook – but you can do whatever activity that distracts you. This is important as a lot of the times, the reason why I can sleep is that my mind is all over the place. Finally, I lay down in bed and do another breathing sequence, the 4-7-8:     

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.

  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

  5. Repeat the cycle until you feel relaxed.


I have looked at so many different sources for ways to control my anxiety, but I have seen that overall, you should create a routine and habits that work better for your individual being. You can start yours by experimenting different advice and techniques and adapting them to your wish. Hopefully my list will help you handle or find your way to handle your stress and/or anxiety in college.

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