Coping with Anxiety

University can be a stressful time for anyone, but for someone who suffers from anxiety, university can seem like a rollercoaster you’ll never be able to get off of. There are lots of different forms of anxiety, and no matter which one you, or a friend, might suffer from; it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Whether you find it difficult to handle deadlines; are anxious about travelling around campus; or even struggle with meeting new people; there is no right or wrong about what you are feeling.

You might feel like you want to hide from your anxiety, by putting on a smile or staying in bed and this might feel like a fantastic way to escape and perhaps it will relieve you temporarily but try not to avoid it totally. Although it can seem like a negative force in your life, it is a part of who you are. So don’t let anyone try to tell you that you need to get over it. Instead, try to embrace it, learn to manage it and above all else, nurture it. Here is some very brief advice on how to manage your anxiety from someone who suffers with crippling self confidence.

Being struck with a bout of anxiety can be overwhelming and sometimes, it can arrive at what seems like the worst possible time. You might have a deadline looming, or a presentation in a couple of days. Whatever the trigger is for your anxiety, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and you will get through it. The first thing I try to do to work through my anxiety, is something I actually heard on the Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy says:

“a person can stand just about anything for 10 seconds, then… you just start on a new 10 seconds”. It might sound silly but in all honesty, I find that it genuinely helps. If you can just get through those first 10 seconds of your anxiety, you’ve already proved to yourself that you can do this and you are definitely strong enough to get through the next 10 seconds as well. So before you do anything else, take a breath and count to 10. You got this.

Pasta, mashed potato, cereal, crisps, chocolate… what do they all have in common? They’re comfort foods! It’s okay to indulge in some of your favourite foods when you’re feeling down but it’s important to remember that these carb loaded foods can ultimately drag you down, depending on your metabolism. They can make you feel lethargic and ill which is exactly the opposite of what you need when you’re going through a period of anxiety. Try to maintain a balanced diet that’s full of positive nutritional value – trust me, diet can make a world of difference when it comes to a strong, positive mind set.

Anxiety can also cause interrupted and sleepless nights and this is absolutely normal. If you find that this is something you struggle with, I would recommend herbal remedies such as lavender oil, camomile tea and rescue oil to help you drift off each night. In my experience, a good night’s sleep is vital to overcoming anxiety as it refreshes the mind, body, and soul.

If you find that writing down your thoughts and feelings is too difficult, perhaps try to talk to someone. I have lots of people in my life who I love and trust: my mum, my sister, my boyfriend, my best friend… but it took me a long time to open up to them about my anxiety. I genuinely worried that they would think I was crazy or that I was being stupid but when I finally gathered the confidence to say how I felt out loud, it was the biggest relief I’ve ever felt. It’s from those who opened their arms and accepted my anxiety, that I’ve received some of the best advice from, which has helped me cope in extremely stressful situations. There are lots of people you can talk to, and whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone completely new – it always helps to say how you are feeling out loud.

Sometimes it can be useful to write down what’s on your mind. What might start out as a good old fashioned rant could actually help you discover what is at the root of your current stint of anxiety. Make sure you take your time when writing down your thoughts, as this will help you to digest exactly how you are feeling and hopefully help you to think of ways you can put yourself at ease.

By Lauren Haslett – Media Studies at University of Portsmouth