Dealing With Anxiety

Photo credit: jessicahtam, Creative Commons, original photo
Photo credit: jessicahtam, Creative Commons, original photo

College is a stressful time, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or superhuman.

Chico State does its best to provide students with resources to help them deal with the day-to-day stress that classes, work, internships and socializing bring.

But then there are those of us who suffer beyond the average student.

Students with anxiety and panic disorders have the added pressure of dealing with abnormal neurotransmitter levels which manifest in increased heart rate, uncontrollable feelings of dread and other unpleasant side effects.

While the general tips and tricks on how to deal with stress may be helpful in some situations, here are some tips for when your symptoms feel overwhelming.

1. Don’t be afraid of mental health days

If you’re having one of those days where your symptoms are out of control, you’re not doing anyone any favors by forcing yourself to work on that in-class project while trying to ignore the fact that your heart is beating a million time a minute and you’re sweating like a sinner in church.

Take a day to yourself to sit on the couch, read a book, cuddle your pet and get yourself together.

2. Trust people to have your back

People are usually more understanding than you think they will be.

If you need to step out of class to get your panic under control or if you need to leave work early because your anxiety is making it impossible to focus, don’t be afraid to let you professor or supervisor know what’s going on.

More often than not they will be more concerned than upset and they will appreciate your honesty.

3. Don’t go cold turkey

Just because you’ve been feeling better doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medication or going to therapy.

The fact that you are able to keep your symptoms under control and function correctly means that the treatment is doing its job. If you feel that you don’t need to be on medication anymore or want to lower your dosage, get off of it slowly.

Taper yourself off over the course of a couple weeks or months and see how you feel before you take the plunge and stop altogether.

Nothing is worse than going through withdrawal on top of your regular symptoms.

4. Know your limits

When I say know your limits, I don’t in any way mean limit yourself.

Push yourself to do things that may exacerbate your anxiety but only to the extent that you know you will be able to move past it.

If you discover that you aren’t able to balance all of your activities, don’t be afraid to take a step back. Step away from some activities and come back to them when you are better able to deal with them.

5. Create a positive environment

This is a key aspect of treatment that is often overlooked.

People are influenced by who they surround themselves with and if you find yourself hanging out with unmotivated, negative people, I can almost guarantee that your motivation and general affect will take a nose dive.

While oftentimes the last thing you want to do when you have anxiety is to go out and meet new people, sometimes a change in your environment and peers is exactly what you need to stay motivated and in control.