You are bound to have moments when you feel like you can’t breathe. It feels as if your mind is a wetland. Uncontrollable thoughts surround your brain until thickets of anxiety and dread block out the sunlight. Creatures of the mind lurk in dark pockets until you are at your weakest and attack at any sign of distress. In such a time of desperation and isolation, the thought of sunshine peeking through once again seems near impossible. I am here to tell you that sunlight always finds a way to filter through and that there are some ways to bring calm to the wildest of waters.
Mental Health In college
If there is any place that makes you question who you are, it’s college. I have had my fair share of identity crises and late-night cries in my time here. It is so easy to feel isolated when you are navigating a whole new season of life. You are suddenly in a new town with none of your old friends, and absolutely everything has changed. Taking charge of your own life and processing your emotions is no doubt a daunting task. While I’d love to say it gets easier, it takes learning how to deal with negative thoughts and persevering through the anxiety and stress. I am going to share my best tips for overcoming anxieties when they seem to surround you — especially when these moments come at the worst of times.
1. leaving room for you
No matter how busy your schedule gets, it is so important to allow yourself to stop throughout the day and process how you feel at that very moment. Our lives as college students get so hectic that we never take a moment to clear our minds and assess why we are doing what we are doing. When I say leave room for you, I don’t mean leave room to scroll through TikTok or Instagram. Take a moment to focus purely on getting in touch with your emotions and getting to know yourself and how you are growing. Personally, journaling is my favorite way of reflecting on how my day is going. Grab a journal and write down everything that is floating through your mind at the moment. If you are not one for writing, take a moment to meditate or to vocalize your emotions and work through them. As a person who is all too guilty of suppressing my emotions, I can promise you that forcing them to surface and truly processing what is going on inside your own mind will save you plenty of mental breakdowns throughout your college career.
2. battling procrastination
I am a big fan of lists and schedules, but I understand that not all people are. Whether you are chasing spontaneity or planning your schedule down to the second, I can assure you that avoiding procrastination can help you avoid a lot of anxiety. I know that this is something that everyone says and not something that you want to hear, but I really do believe that this is true. I have heard some people say that they procrastinate because they work better under pressure or because the time limit makes them more productive. What if the task takes longer than anticipated? What if you forgot to do something that is very important and time-sensitive? I can’t even count the number of times I remember a random assignment just hours before it is due. Planning to do your important tasks as early as possible can limit stress and give yourself grace when it comes to mistakes like these. Trick your brain into thinking that something is due the day before. This is easier said than done, but motivation ultimately comes from within yourself. You control how you think, and you have the power to limit some of the stressors in your life.
3. having a support system
This tip is the hardest for me to bring myself to listen to, but it’s the one that I think is most important. When struggling with anxiety, stress, or mental health, it is so easy to fall down a rabbit hole of thoughts and find yourself isolated and hopeless. Opening yourself to other people is one of the most terrifying things you can do. What if they leave? What if I am a burden to them? What if they see me differently? These are all valid concerns that I often find myself thinking about, but the beauty of life is finding people that you can be vulnerable with. There is always a risk of getting hurt but allowing people to come in and out of your life will ultimately allow you to learn about yourself and how you comfort and find comfort in others. If you never let people in and allow them to see your struggles, there are no chances that one of them will reach out their hand and pull you out of the darkness. There are always people who are willing to listen. You just need to find them.
Next time you find yourself struggling to remain afloat amidst the craziness of life, take a moment to slow down and remember what you are passionate about, what you are working towards, and the happy moments that make everything worth it. No matter how deep you seem to sink, I promise there is always a way to swim back up.