Dealing with anxiety in college

Katie LaDuke, Managing Editor

Anxiety is draining. It’s overwhelming and controlling. When you factor in classes and work, it’s an absolute nightmare.

Psychology Today reported that 60% of college students in 2019 had some sort of anxiety disorder or psychological distress. That’s equivalent to about 11,500 students out of Oakland University’s 19,013 enrollment.

While OU does have resources, like the Counseling Center, extreme wait times have forced students to wait nearly half a semester to be seen. This is unless you’re in an emergency situation, which will be taken immediately.

If you are able to wait but do have trouble managing your anxiety at times, try out a few of these tips that have helped myself and others dealing with anxiety.

Know your symptoms

No two people are the same when it comes to symptoms. Some associate more with the physical symptoms, such as nausea, rapid heart rate or shaking. Some tend to fall with more cognitive symptoms, like racing thoughts, trouble concentrating or trouble sleeping. For the lucky ones out there, they get a combination of the two.

The reason you’re feeling these symptoms is because your body is on high alert trying to defend itself from potential danger, especially during an anxiety attack. It’s best not to push yourself too hard when experiencing your typical symptoms. It’s just going to make you feel crappier.

Breathing techniques

I always thought breathing techniques were silly until I actually started doing them more often. Just like symptoms, the best breathing techniques are going to vary from person to person.

I’ve found that several deep breaths in a row help recenter myself when my mind is going a million miles a minute. Focusing on a deeper exhale can also help take the mind off racing thoughts and steady a rapid heart beat. If you have an Apple Watch or check your app store, you can find apps to help prompt and guide with breathing techniques.

Take some time for yourself

Who doesn’t love self care? When it comes to the fight or flight response, I’m a total flighter. Whenever I’m overwhelmed, my natural reaction is to take a nap, so that is my “me time” to regroup and destress for a minute (or two hours).

Recognizing what triggers your anxiety is beneficial for trying to escape it, even if it is for just a short time. If school causes the bulk of your anxiety, it might help to give yourself little rewards as you get through your work. Watch a few episodes of your favorite show. Get a Slurpee. Make a home-cooked meal.

Cold water

You may have seen someone splash cold water on their face to wake up. You can do the same when you’re feeling anxious.

A HuffPost article stated that cold water can help stop moments of disassociation when dealing with an anxiety attack. I’ve known several people find relief by putting a cold towel on their forehead or an ice cube on the back of their neck when experiencing an anxiety attack. 

Ask for help

Asking for help doesn’t always mean going to see a therapist. It can be as simple as asking a friend to help take your mind off things or needing advice.

I will never discredit therapy, though, and I urge people to seek the level of help they need. You are the only one who truly knows what you’re dealing with.

All of these recommendations are based off my personal experiences. Mental health is nothing to take lightly, so please take care of yourself.