Advice to Help Anxiety

Clare College
You know the feeling: butterflies in your stomach, your palms start to sweat, your heart races, and you have the overwhelming urge to get the heck out of Dodge.

Everyone has anxiety as some time or another. Some people have it on a regular basis, while others are lucky enough to only have to deal with it occasionally. With all the stress that comes with being in college, it’s no wonder many students suffer – deadlines, homework, tests to study for, social pressures, the list goes on. Whichever the case is, everyone could benefit from knowing a few tips to help manage your anxiety.

  • Distract yourself. If your feeling anxiety over something that isn’t so immediate (as in, your future, the next school year, a class that’s a ways off, etc.), or something that is far off from now, just distract yourself and find something else to think about. Nine times out of ten, there’s no real reason to stress yourself out and torture yourself by going over and over this big, broad concepts in your mind until you feel anxious and worried. Read a book, watch a movie, talk to a friend – whatever helps you get over the feelings at the moment.
  • Take a deep breath. Sounds cliche, right? But it’s proven that taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth can seriously calm you down when you’re stressed and having too much anxiety. It calms and focuses your mind, and helps you return to the task at hand.
  • Sweat it out. Though you may not always want to hear it, exercise is a great and healthy way to deal with a multitude of problems, like stress and anxiety. Working out and physical activity releases endorphins and other good chemicals into your system that improves your mood and makes you feel more calm and less stressed.
  • Repeat a mantra. If you find yourself consistently getting anxious in certain situations or thinking the same sorts of thoughts that trigger it, try repeating a positive mantra in your head (or out loud) that combats the negative thoughts that are causing your anxiety. It may sound silly, but it’s been proven to work, and can help permanently fight the causes of anxiety. If you constantly tell yourself something that makes you feel better, then soon enough you’ll start believing it and won’t need the help anymore.
  • Fake it til you make it. While some anxiety can be truly debilitating, there are some situations where you may have to just deal with it in your day to day life. While it’s not fun, that’s sometimes the way life goes. However, if you’re feeling anxious, weird, or out of place (many people get anxious in some or all social situations), just pretend that you’re doing fine. If you fake happiness or calmness, eventually you’ll start to actually feel that way. There’s something about tricking other people into thinking you’re doing fine that ends up tricking your brain and body into feeling that way as well!

Remember, while some butterflies in your stomach every once in a while is a common and completely normal symptom of being human, if you have chronic anxiety, or such strong feelings that it prevents you from living your life normally, you may want to visit a doctor and see what can be done for you. If your anxiety is starting to interfere with your academic performance or your social life, check out these campus resources.

For more information and advice for dealing with stress and anxiety, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website.