Managing anxiety on a stressful college campus

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Managing anxiety on a stressful college campus

Illustration by Sarah Cascadden / Contributor

Illustration by Sarah Cascadden / Contributor

Illustration by Sarah Cascadden / Contributor

Illustration by Sarah Cascadden / Contributor

Neelofer Lodhy

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Illustration by Sarah Cascadden / Contributor

 

With the pressures of starting a new chapter in life, it’s only a matter of time before anxiety sets in, a common occurrence for many college students.

Anxiety is often confused with the term stress because both terms appear to have the same effects. According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is a nervous disorder characterized by feelings of tension, uneasiness, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

The best way to differentiate the two is that stress is an emotion, and anxiety is a condition.

In an article by the American Journal of Health Studies, research showed that anxiety, time management, and leisure satisfaction were all predictors of academic stress in the multivariate analysis.

With all of these contributing factors leading to apprehensiveness, it’s important to find a natural source of release to alleviate any further anxieties.

“To help alleviate anxiety I try not to overwhelm myself and take things one at a time,” said Karely Gutierrez, junior child development and psychology major. “You tend to do that when you get stressed and anxious. You kind of start putting all these things together and making it worse. While yoga does help me deal with other things, it also helps with stress and anxiety.”

Exercise is one of the key factors, and the most natural in lessening anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), physical activity helps your body and mind. It’s recommended to go to the gym, take a jog, go for a walk or do yoga.

“When I’m really overwhelmed I like to play sports, I go and play soccer with my friends, or go running and listen to music. That kind of helps me,” said Lidia Quiroga, sophomore biology major. “I also play the piano, so playing my instrument is therapeutic.”

Music serves as a curative remedy for many who are trying to calm down and collect themselves while experiencing anxiety. Professor Ron Borczon of music therapy said students need to find the right music to listen to in order to get their body to calm down.

“Thinking about anxiety and music, people often have an idea that certain music might relax them, so it’s important for students to find things that they can listen to so that they can focus on relaxing their bodies more than anything first,” Borczon said.

Because music affects our moods, and we tend to listen to songs that reinforce how we feel, Borczon recommended music with a slow tempo to help calm the nerves.

“Usually it’s some kind of slow music without words, maybe even something pleasant with a slow tempo, so that they can really think about breathing to that tempo,” Borczon said. “That’s how they can really get in control with their anxiety, they learn how to breath to the music. It’s like a conditioning process.”

Borczon recommended to students who are dealing with anxiety, to create a playlist with music that calms them down. This way students always have it at hand.

Other remedies include keeping a balanced diet, limiting alcohol and avoiding illegal drugs, according to the ADAA.

Soda and coffee, like alcohol, must be taken in moderation as caffeine and liquor can be contributing factors in triggering anxiety and panic attacks.

Instead, settle for something natural, like a cup of chamomile tea. This will provide the opposite effects of caffeine and liquor and help calm the nerves, or make it easier to fall asleep.

The last thing students want is to experience panic-like symptoms while on campus. In order to prevent such events from happening, obtaining an adequate amount of sleep is an easy, free remedy that will make a significant difference in one’s health.

With jobs, fraternities, sports and internships, sleep may be something college students frequently overlook. Staying up late for that midterm exam isn’t as essential as sleep.

If exams are what worries you most, an article by the LA Times found that writing about emotional events prior to taking exams had been shown to reduce rumination, according to a study published by the journal, Science.

The study further showed that students who took on this activity excelled on their exams.

Whether it’s exams, the beginning of a new academic year on a new campus or making new friends, anxiety is sure to creep up on the ever-occupied lives of college students. It is up to us to decide how we choose to deal with it. Luckily for us, we have multiple, free options available at our disposal.