Ways to Help Alleviate Self-Doubt

College is a time when everything feels out of control. You’re thrown into challenging classes, the expectations of parents and competition of your peers, drama in your personal life, the strain to excel in your professional life, and to top it off, you have to make it all look effortless on social media. As a college student in the thick of it all, I can say that when facing all these different aspects of college life, your mental health is always the first thing to deteriorate. Over the years, more and more students have begun to experience crippling anxiety, to the point where anxiety has surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students. If you’re like me – someone who is constantly trying to battle against paralyzing anxiety and self-doubt  – here are some tips to calm your brain down.

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1. Accept that your doubts are real and human.  

Although it can be problematic, self-doubt is an important part of being human, and it’s important to accept that. Everyone has doubts about themselves and what they can do, so there is no reason to beat yourself up about having doubts. When you attempt to push away your inner critic because you think it’s going to make your doubts go away, you’re actually just creating more ways for doubt to grow. Being honest with yourself and embracing doubts will help you come to terms with the best way to cope with, and get past, any second guessing that pops up in your life. Also, chances are there are other people around you who share the same fears. Image Courtesy of Google Images

2. Doubt your doubts.

Having doubts doesn’t mean you have to give in to them. Self-doubt is often just fear that has been manifested to protect you from humiliation or harm, but oftentimes, your body can’t distinguish between when you are actually in a dangerous situation and when you are nervous about tackling something not life-threatening. This is where anxiety can cripple you into not following through on responsibilities, out of fear that only negative consequences await you. A good tip to remember is that doubts are not fact, and they are not truths. You can think of doubts as stories that your mind concocts to make you cautious, and sometimes unreasonably so. When you experience a moment of doubt, challenge the doubt directly by asking what if. What if you’re actually more ready than ever to tackle whatever you’re having doubts about?

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3. Think about the bigger picture.

Most of the time when we are dealing with self-doubt, it seems impossible to see outside present problems. If you think about your doubts as permanently ingrained, then there’s no way to think of ways to overcome them. One tip is to take a step outside of your current situation to give yourself perspective. If you’re worried about an internship interview, think about the fact that no matter what, in the future there will be more opportunities available, and that one opportunity won’t make or break your career. If you fail a test, step outside of your current situation and think about the fact that one test doesn’t determine whether or not you graduate from college. Having a bigger picture of anxiety inducing situations allows you to see that there are always other ways of accomplishing your goals. Image Courtesy of Google Images

4. Find a crew who believes in you.

Self-doubt can manifest if you don’t have a strong emotional support system behind you through your college experience. A major source of anxiety can stem from not being able to lean on friends or family when you are in a crisis. One tip is to keep in touch with friends and family if you are far from home. Keep a network of friends on campus and lean on them when you have anxious thoughts – talk through your fears, figure out where your self-doubt stems from, and realize that you’re not alone. Another source of doubt and anxiety can come from hanging around people who are negatively affecting your mental health. These people will be the causes of your doubts and anxieties. If there are people who are negative influences in your life, remember that keeping those people around is never more important than your mental health.

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5. Unplug.

Anyone who’s ever been on social media knows how hard it is to pull away from the constant black hole of new notifications and story posts. How do you escape that gnawing feeling in the back of your mind that by putting your phone down you’ll be missing out? These feelings are called FOMO, or “The Fear Of Missing Out", and they’re actually harming you more than helping you. FOMO can quickly overwhelm by leading you to take on more than you can handle. If you feel like your relationship with social media is making you more anxious about doubts that you might have, one great tip is to go a day or two completely unplugged. Mute your social media streams and focus on the world around you; this will help you realize that what happens on social media is not important to you as a person, and that your worth is not deemed by the number of likes or follows you have. Image Courtesy of Google Images

6. Try new things and be brave.  

When you’re dealing with anxiety and self-doubt, one of the hardest things to do is to try new things. It feels like you can manage your stress by keeping within the confines of the familiar and the routine. This might be true in the short term, but you’re also keeping yourself from moving forward. One tip to condition yourself to be more open to trying new things is to engage in one small new experience per day. These acts can be as trivial as saying hello to a stranger on the subway, but they allow you to see for yourself that no matter what, when trying new things the absolute worst case scenario is nothing close to the one million negative outcomes you’ve envisioned in your head. Each new experience that you try is an act of bravery, and you can feel proud that every day you’re building your self-confidence to feel more comfortable dealing with uncertainty and rejection. Image Courtesy of Google Images