Written by Kim Daniel
Editor’s Note: The following article is written by counseling professionals from Counseling Services in partnership with the Southern Accent.
Imagine yourself in this situation: It is beautiful weather outside, and the sun is shining through the crisp autumn air. The grass is covered in dew as you open the door to leave the dorm. In a frantic rush, you scurry up the many steps to the promenade and dash into the building of your early morning class, barely remembering to put on your mask. As the professor talks about the average grades for the previous test, you start to feel butterflies in your stomach.
“I know I didn’t do well,” you think. “If I fail the next one, I will have wasted this semester.”
As the tests are being handed back, worry floods your mind, and your heart begins to race. You take a deep breath and open it. Sixty-eight percent.
“I should have slept more and studied more,” you think to yourself. “I just don’t have the time. Why can I never catch up?”
Feeling overwhelmed, you sit in your thoughts of panic and worry as you wait for the end of the lecture. Wanting to distract yourself from the impending doom, you pull out your phone and choose your go-to social media and start scrolling. Disengaging from your surroundings helps for the moment, but deep down, the anxiety grows.
It isn’t hard to imagine, is it? College students like us have large amounts of stress, pressure and worry. Even on a peaceful morning, we are rushing to our classes and are too tired to enjoy the scenery. While feeling anxious is common on college campuses, many of us do not know how to manage it.
A key mindset is to approach anxiety rather than avoid it. When we feel anxious and overwhelmed, it can be tempting to shut down and skip class. However, avoidance makes the anxiety worsen over time. Instead, try emailing your professor for help or ask a classmate to walk to class with you.
Another important component of managing anxious feelings is to practice self-care. This includes healthy sleeping, eating and exercising. Self-care also includes having social time — just remember that it is about balance. One favorite way to include self-care is to find a reason to laugh each day. Maybe this means calling a friend or watching funny cat TikToks.
Self-care can become a personal project. Challenge yourself to create a healthy habit, such as creating a sleep routine. Sometimes, these can be things that we learn about through directive study or exploration. However, sometimes it is difficult to overcome the obstacles in our way, and we cannot fight the anxiety on our own. If you need help forming self-care strategies or changing to an approach mindset, remember that there are resources on campus to help you. Seek out support when you are struggling with academics, social and spiritual life or mental health. To learn about specific resources on campus, visit https://www.southern.edu/administration/student-success/fye/resources.html.