Monday, January 9, 2017

Dealing with Anxiety in college

So, surprise surprise, I have anxiety. Everyone who knows me has probably figured that out on their own, but people who are new to me or don't know me well might not know. I'm not afraid to say it or tell people about it if they ask, but mostly I just try to go about my day dealing with it as it comes and trying not to let it define me too much. 

Something that makes my anxiety appear on the regular is: College. Classes, homework, people, not having any time to myself or to be with my boyfriend at home. Social obligations, responsibility, etc. Not that I don't love all of those things, but, they do make me anxious. 

I used to think that if I kept myself busy and forced myself out of my comfort zone, it would go away. Stress would become a staple in my life and I would just use that to my advantage. That is how I went about my senior year of high school and my first year of university. I worked on as many shows at a time as I could, I took full course loads. I would wake up at 8 am and not come back to my room until close to midnight. I kept such a detailed planner with my life scheduled down to every 15 minutes of my day. I tried to make sure I never really had a free day because those were the days that all the stress would hit me. 

It wasn't until about half way though Fall term of my second year of college that I realized I had burnt myself out and was now starting to resent having to do things, even the things that I once loved like Theatre and even just hanging out with my friends. That was when I began to limit myself and when I began to learn that saying NO is actually okay and no one will hate me for doing so. My health had to be my first priority. 

Now there are a few things that I do regularly to help manage my anxiety and have a fun, full life:

1) Routine is okay. Routine is good.
Wake up at 8 am, go to school. Go to work. Come home. Study. Hang out. Go to bed. I find that doing the same things everyday at the same time (ish) really help me during the week. I like to know what's coming and when and what I can do to make the most of my tine.

2) Comfort things
Tea. Coffee. Hoodies. Blankets. If I feel especially anxious during the school/work day I'll step away, take a few minutes and go and get a cup of coffee or tea. I also like to make sure I'm comfortable during the day. I wear a lot of hoodies and leggings and supportive shoes mostly because if I'm uncomfortable in what I'm wearing I'll be anxious to get home and for the day to be over.

3)Schedule free time
I'm taking on a new rule for myself this term: I'm only letting school/work things take place between 10 am and 5 pm. This did not used to be a rule due to show rehearsals always having to take place so late in the day to accommodate everyone involved. I've taken a small step back from Theatre and am no longer in a position where I need to stay late. Thanks to this new rule, I'll now have my mornings and evenings free to spend time with my boyfriend, clean the house and work on my writing/blog. (And of course, catch up on Netflix and YouTube).

4)Keep a clean environment
I actually don't mind cleaning. I don't mind the act of cleaning because I love the feeling after I finish cleaning and my house is clean and clutter free and I don't have anything else to do.

Along with planning your day, I keep running To Do lists of everything I want to get done during the day/week/month and I write literally everything down in my Happy Planner. Being able to visualize my day keeps me happy and less worried about forget a meeting or due date. Also, write everything down from your syllabus into your planner as soon as you get it! And put sticky note reminders a week before a due date to remind you to actually do it! Saving things for the last minute is a very avoidable source of anxiety. 

6) Don't be afraid... (to say NO/to ask for HELP)
People understand (for the most part) if you don't want to go out, or can't help them with their show. A good friend will also understand if you're having a hard time with your anxiety and you need a hug, or need them to go with you to order food or even just need to vent about what's bothering you. Needless to say, make sure you're this person for other people around you. People don't always realize what anxiety actually looks like and it's different for every person. But, if you see someone who's a little stressed or frazzled, ask them if there is anything you can do to assist them. It's possible you're accidentally causing someone anxiety by trying to get them to do something: go get lunch, play a board game or distracting them from their task. 

These are things that I use everyday to keep myself healthy and happy. I'd be very interested to see what anyone else thinks about anxiety or what they do to help themselves. 


  1. There are some great tips here for dealing with mental health while studying! I think keeping a clean environment is SO important, and it's not talked about that much. I know my anxiety is so much worse when my space is untidy/unclean.

    Liv //

  2. Great post! Love your tips. Lots of luck to you with college!