It’s the start of a new school year and if you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a combination of excitement and anxiety. But no worries, its totally normal!
Last week I packed my bags and moved into my apartment in Clemson. I couldn’t tell you how excited I was — I was ready for freedom! I was ready to not have a curfew, to get my nose pierced, to be able to have sleepovers with friends during the school week, and to eat out whenever I wanted.
My family helped me lug my bags from my car and set up my new room, and then I hugged them goodbye. I knew that I would miss them, but never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that I’d be homesick for the entire first week. In addition to my homesickness, my anxiety became increasingly worse. I cried most nights, didn’t have an appetite, suffered from anxiety-induced headaches, and my stomach was frequently upset.
I hated feeling so miserable, both physically and mentally. After all, I was supposed to be having the time of my life! I knew I had to do something to manage my anxiety. After lots of research and several calls with my mom and my therapist, I found several solutions that worked beautifully. I am hopeful that these solutions can also help you combat your college homesickness and anxiety.
- Be Mindful of Your Diet.
In the midst of my anxiety, I was eating “comfort foods” in hopes that they would help me feel better. However, it was just the opposite. Drinks that are high in caffeine and foods that are high in sugar can actually trigger anxiety. Eating well-balanced meals and taking care of your body ensures that any mental health struggles are unlikely to stem from poor eating habits.
Exercising is definitely the strategy that best helps me keep my anxiety in check. And please don’t feel intimidated by the term “exercise.” By no means am I an Olympic athlete — quite the opposite actually. In the mornings or after dinner, I walk around my apartment complex for at least 30 minutes, and then I do a rotating workout routine of squats, push-ups, or crunches once I’m back in my room. I also suggest yoga, because it clears my head without being as demanding on my body. Even if I feel like I’m super busy, I always make time for an exercise because it helps me feel alert and refreshed.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
Studies show that the average college student needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. When I first moved to Clemson, I was so intent on “living my best life” that I only got around 8 hours of sleep total for the entire first weekend that I was here. With this lack of sleep, I was less alert and had more trouble dealing with my anxiety.
- Be Connected.
While you don’t want to overload your social calendar, staying connected with family and friends while forming new relationships can be very helpful in maintaining a balanced life and fighting feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or homesickness. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, we all need positive relationships to feel loved and supported. Sometimes it is hard for me to come out of my shell, but thankfully I was blessed with amazing roommates who helped me work through my anxiety. They also connected me with their friends and it has been a blast meeting new people!
- Natural Remedies
While you won’t find a solution to anxiety through the first hit on Google, I have been experimenting with some natural remedies and have found them to be very helpful in managing my anxiety. I have a lavender candle and diffuser with lavender essential oils in my room, which smells amazing and helps with stress relief. I frequently drink hot tea when stressed, and also enjoy meditation to clear my head if anxious thoughts are getting to me. Lastly, I have been taking natural stress and anxiety relief supplements, such as Stress J and Gaba. While the medical community debates the legitimacy of such supplements, personally I have loved them and will vouch for their positive effects. I encourage you to try them! (order them at www.vitacost.com or
- Reach Out.
Out of all of the advice and tactics that I have mentioned to help curb college anxiety and homesickness, reaching out to others is my number one recommendation. It isn’t healthy to keep sad or lonely feelings inside. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can help relieve those feelings or burdens that you may be experiencing. Clemson offer free counseling for their students (CAPS), so don’t hesitate to check out our campus resources! Therapy has allowed me to understand some tricky emotions that I have experienced and come up with tools to fight back if they strike again.
Here’s to a fantastic and productive school year where we prioritize our mental and physical wellbeing!