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In high school, I never would’ve categorized myself as an anxious person. I’d get super nervous before tests and would probably stress out about random things more than the next person, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I was a generally anxious person. I never thought twice about being social, and was never nervous to do things with lots of people or go out of my comfort zone.

However, once I got to college, I flipped a switch.

To be honest, I’ve turned into an extremely anxious person. Anxiety is nothing to joke about — it can suck. It holds you back from being yourself and keeps you in your own head. When you meet me, you probably wouldn’t think that I’m consistently holding back anxiousness, and this is all thanks to my coping mechanisms. If you suffer from anxiety even a little, try out one of my methods for wrestling with your inner thoughts.

Go for a walk outside

Going outside and being with nature almost immediately puts a Band-Aid on my anxiety. If I’m home, I usually prefer to take my dog for a walk, but at school, I opt for a lone venture. I take note of the trees, crunching leaves, and autumn colors. I appreciate the world around me more, too. I remember that art lives in everything, how literally every step I take was designed to look the way that it does. If I’m hiking, I find gratitude in the Earth’s natural beauty. Being one with nature and remembering that the world is bigger than our intrusive thoughts helps me cope.

Go to therapy

No surprise here! I’m a huge advocate for therapy and I think everyone should go. It’s not fair for us to keep our thoughts in our heads or drown our friends with them all the time. Having a professional help you unravel the inner workings of your brain clears the fog. One thing my therapist and I do during our sessions is weigh the actual possibilities of outcomes. For example, if I’m anxious I’ll fail my test, we think about the actual percentage chance of that happening. We create a chart to visualize that there is probably a 10% chance I’ll actually fail. Seeing this low number written out makes me realize how tiny the probability is of an awful turnout.

Journal

When I was younger I kept a diary just for fun, but I never thought it would transform into something that could change my life. I wouldn’t call what I have now a “diary” because I don’t necessarily chronicle my days. Instead, I write down the feelings I have about certain things that are making me anxious. When I journal, the number one thing I abide by is honesty. The whole reason for having a private journal is having the ability to be brutally honest with yourself about how you feel. This helps me come to terms with my emotions and find the genesis of my anxiety.

Listen to podcasts

One crappy thing about having social anxiety is that it’s hard to control. Sometimes I don’t have it at all, but other times it’s all I can think about. Lately, I’ve been anxious about walking from class to class. My old school was really small, so I’m not used to large crowds of people walking by me at all times. The first few weeks here were a bit rough until I finally realized I could drown out my thoughts by listening to someone else talk. Unless I’m walking with a friend, I most definitely have a podcast playing in my ear.

go to the gym and Stay Active

I’m not one of those people who’s super bummed to go to the gym; I actually really love it! After going to the gym, I get a huge boost of confidence and serotonin, enough to get rid of any anxiety. Staying physically active is one of the best ways for me to minimize the effects of my anxiety! If you’re nervous to head to the gym, find a gym buddy to go with or join a workout club on campus (shoutout CHAARG!). I could talk for a long time about my favorite things to do at the gym, but the only way you’ll stay consistent is to find workouts you actually like.

I’m not going to lie, anxiety sucks and I feel a bit embarrassed to admit how much it affects my life. However, like most things, I try to find the positives. I’m a much kinder person now that I’ve experienced firsthand that you never know what’s going on in someone else’s head. Anxiety also helps me to maintain a self-care routine. In the end, your thoughts are not your reality. Try to take a step back when you begin forming intrusive thoughts and focus your energy on taking actions to cope. You’ve got this!

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Caroline Roscoe

U Mass Amherst '23

Caroline is a contributing writer for the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she is currently a Junior studying communications with minors in business and Spanish. In her spare time, Caroline loves to go on long walks with her dog Daisy and spend time with her friends in Amherst! You can expect Caroline to write about all things beauty, politics, mental health, lifestyle, entertainment and college life!
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