Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues. Nearly 20% of adults have an anxiety disorder, and often the symptoms can start appearing in early adulthood. That means the college years are a common time for people to start noticing anxiety symptoms, but many are not yet aware of how to deal with that anxiety.
When you’re aware of an anxiety disorder, it can become incredibly disruptive, especially when you’re trying to balance work, school, and your personal life. It’s also common during the college years to experience anxiety from time to time, even if you don’t have a disorder. That’s why it’s essential to learn coping strategies for when those feelings occur. Try the following things to better manage those feelings:
1. Perform Breathing Exercises
When you’re feeling anxious, your body might experience a stress response. It notices you’re worried about something, and it begins to prepare for a dangerous situation by producing more adrenaline and increasing your heart rate.
Unfortunately, the body’s stress response can actually make you feel more stressed. To decrease your anxiety, you want to inform your body that you’re not in a dangerous situation. One way you can do that is through intentional breathing activities.
You can calm your body by simply slowing your breathing, especially the exhale. Take your time letting all your air out of your lungs and pause for just a moment before breathing in again. Try breathing like this for at least two minutes, and you’ll notice your body beginning to calm itself.
The 4-7-8 Technique
This breathing technique was originally designed to help people fall asleep because it is very effective at relaxing the body. To perform this breathing exercise, sit somewhere you are comfortable. Then, inhale through your nose for four seconds, and hold the breath in for seven seconds. After that, slowly let your breath out through your mouth for eight seconds while making a whooshing sound. Repeat this cycle four times.
To do this exercise, first, find a comfortable sitting position. Then, lean slightly forward, placing your hands on your knees and spreading your fingers as wide as you can. After you’ve placed your hands, inhale through your nose. Then, open your mouth wide, sticking your tongue out. While your mouth is open, exhale forcefully while making a deep “ha” sound. Take a few moments to breathe normally before repeating the lion’s breath. Repeat the cycle up to seven times.
2. Find The Workout You Love
Exercise can do just as much for your mental health as it can for your physical health. It releases dopamine and endorphins, which are two chemicals in the body that create feelings of pleasure. Those chemicals can help combat the negative hormones produced by stress and anxiety.
The best type of exercise for managing anxiety is whichever type you enjoy. You shouldn’t force yourself to do an activity you don’t like because this could add to your stress. Walking, cycling, hiking, weight lifting, and yoga are all great activities to add to your routine to decrease stress. If none of those sound fun to you, get creative! Any activity where you move your body is good for your mental health.
Sunrise Village has a basketball court on the property where you can shoot some hoops by yourself or play a friendly game with friends to get your blood pumping too.
3. Form A Habit of Journaling
Many different studies have found journaling can reduce anxiety. When you’re feeling anxious, thoughts can tend to quickly race through your brain, and writing can help you slow those thoughts down. It also helps you build awareness of your feelings, so you can learn to recognize anxiety triggers.
There are many different ways to journal, and nearly all of them will help you manage your anxiety symptoms. Some people prefer to simply open an empty notebook and describe any thoughts that come to their minds. Others like a more guided approach and use journal prompts to focus their thoughts. Both methods can be highly effective. Try each of them to see which works best for you.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
As their schedules fill up, many college students reduce the amount of sleep they’re getting. While 7-9 hours might seem hard to fit into your schedule, you’ll see your anxiety levels decrease significantly if you prioritize a full night’s sleep.
James Greenblatt, chief medical officer at the Walden Behavioral Center, said “Resolving sleep disturbances is one of the most important factors for health and wellness, and one of the most significant factors in the treatment of anxiety and depression.”
If you have difficulty getting a full night’s sleep, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This will help you fall asleep more quickly at night, making it easier to get a full night’s sleep on a busy schedule.
5. Work With A Medical Professional
Anxiety is highly treatable, but most people with anxiety disorders benefit from the support of a trained medical professional. If your anxiety symptoms don’t go away with some small lifestyle changes, you should make an appointment with a medical provider to discuss what types of treatment could benefit you.
If you’re unsure what type of treatment you need for your mental health, your doctor is there to help you find a solution that works for you. Your doctor might prescribe you with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two, which has helped hundreds of thousands of people with anxiety disorders lead healthy and happy lives.
Sometimes mental health issues are tied to physical health issues, which is why it’s vitally important to visit a doctor when you have persistent anxiety symptoms. Anxiety could be a symptom of a hormone imbalance or a thyroid issue, both of which are treatable with the help of a doctor.
There’s no need to continue to live with anxiety and let it disrupt your life. When you reach out for support, you can often minimize or even completely eliminate the symptoms. As soon as you begin treating your anxiety, you’ll notice nearly every area of your life becoming more easily manageable.