Any September, in any year, new college students feel anxiety about the big transition. Even under “normal” circumstances, the pressure can get to you. Up to 32 percent of new college students report feeling stressed and anxious. Two out of three feel lonely. And 17 percent experience full-blown depression.
Post-pandemic, you may have all of the above… and more. This calls to mind everyone’s favorite word since March 2020: unprecedented. So much of what you’re going through has been cultivated though the Covid experience. Keep in mind that you’re not alone and your feelings are valid: no one has it all figured out yet.
Still, you don’t have to suffer. Whatever the reason for your anxiety, the key to calm is understanding yourself and employing strategies for healthy coping and productivity.
What’s Causing All of Your College Anxiety?
In any year, new students might be dealing with:
- Moving out of their parents’ home
- Possibly moving out of state
- Social and peer pressure
- New academic responsibilities
- New domestic responsibilities
- Dating, sex, and romance
- Unrealistic expectations
This year, you can add:
- Health-related concerns
- Conflicts and confusion related to masks, vaccines, mandates, and more
- Widespread division in political and social beliefs
- Social anxiety caused by more than a year of isolation and change
- The negative mental health impacts from the pandemic and lockdown that as many as 95 percent of college students have experienced, according to studies
Consider manageable goals and strategies you can take to deal with worry and uncertainty.
8 Everyday Ways to Cope Well with Anxiety at College
1. Move Past the Stigma
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the U.S. Give yourself a break. There is no shame in feeling anxious. Please do not allow this to stop you from seeking help.
2. Practice Self-Care
Fortify yourself with a daily regimen that centers around healthy eating, sleeping, and activity habits. Cultivate some relaxation techniques, e.g. meditation, yoga, etc. This will serve you well as you will be more in tune with your mind and body. Thus, self-care and can help head off anxiety earlier.
3. Stay in Healthy Contact With Friends and Family Back Home
Reach out when you need support but try not to let yourself rely too much on them for constant reassurance. Find the right balance for you (and your loved ones). Foster connections at school as much as possible.
4. Put Some Serious Thought Into Your Room Decor
It seems simple, but the environment can significantly impact your moods. Decorate your space in a way that brings you comfort and calm. Avoid clutter. Create a comfortable bed. Find the right mix of home and away.
5. Start With a Realistic Course Load
In a different year, it might be tempting to come out of the gate in full throttle academically. For now, simply learn to pace yourself. Everyone — from students to teachers to administrators — is managing their expectations as the world gets a handle on our new normal.
6. Take Tech Breaks
Your phone is an ongoing temptation. The fear of missing out is real; no doubt you want to keep up. Still, do yourself a favor early on and put limits on your use of technology.
Schedule some regular tech breaks. Allow your mind to detox from the overwhelming interruptions of notifications, social media, and more.
7. Set Boundaries
Be realistic about the balance of academic, social, and other obligations in your life. You don’t have to entertain guests all the time. It’s okay to skip some social events. A little solitude goes a long way. Set and enforce boundaries.
8. Take Advantage of Campus Resources
Every school has available free resources. Familiarize yourself with what’s available and, again, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. It’s a great way to meet others and connect with kindred spirits.
A Different Kind of Guidance Counselor
There are countless reasons why it’s normal to feel anxiety as you enter college. Also, there are countless healthy coping mechanisms you can employ to ease the tension. However, this does not mean the process will be easy. You may feel you can’t handle it alone. That’s perfectly okay.
Everyone can benefit from speaking to a compassionate, experienced counselor. Even away at school, you have the option of doing virtual sessions via video chat or telephone. Don’t struggle alone. Read more about anxiety treatment. Then reach out for help and learn the skills that will guide you through these challenging but incredible years of your life.
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