I struggled with severe anxiety in college and I hated it. I was anxious over bumping into guys I’ve dated, my grades, and whether someone was going to hang out with me after class was done. My go-to coping mechanism when dealing with anxiety consisted telling everyone about my anxiety, self-harm, and crying. Crying and telling people about my anxiety are okay but in moderation. I’ve learned that crying sometimes made the situation worse and that not everyone is a shoulder to cry on. These are five things I wished I knew in college that would have helped me cope with my anxiety.
1.Meditate- I’m a huge fan of meditation, especially guided ones now. I try to meditate at least once a day. It focuses me on the most important things of the day and to let go of the petty things. A mobile app I highly recommend for meditation is the Insight Timer. Not only does it have a timer to help a person with their practice, but it has a variety of meditations he or she can choose from.
2. Being prudent with my medication- I started taking escitalopram when I was nineteen and a sophomore. In the beginning, I’d skip my medication for three or more days because I thought I’d be fine. Wrong! I’d have brain zaps, nausea, sensitivity to light, and mood swings. Along with the side effects, my anxiety was heightened which did not help me or the people around me. If you want to stop your medication, I’d recommend going to your psychiatrist to help you tamper off. Going off cold turkey is an emotional process that can lead up to dangerous situations.
3. Better Time Management- I procrastinated a ton when I was in college. Bad Idea. I remember times I’d pull all-nighters because I wasn’t conscious of my assignment and project deadlines. This led me to sleepless nights and lower grades because I was worried about finishing my assignment.
4. Sleeping More- This goes under better time management. I mainly didn’t sleep because I procrastinated on assignments, but I also slept less because I’d be talking to friends and doing other fun things. Yes, sometimes it’s worth a lack of sleep to do fun things, but when one has a mental illness it’s not healthy. I’d wake up feeling groggy and distressed, which was not good because it set the tone of my day.
5. Saying No More Often- I still struggle with this one. I wish I said no more often to situations I was uncomfortable in because most of the time I’d do something regretful and end up feeling guilty. The guilt would turn into anxiety which of course did not help the situation.
Despite not knowing these important tools in college, it’s good that I know them now. I still struggle, but learning from my mistakes has decreased my anxiety and made me a better person.