26 Genius Tips for College Students To Overcome Anxiety
1. Plan ahead if you need to skip a class so it doesn’t lead to MORE anxiety.
“ALWAYS make sure someone is taking notes for you and you know what you’re missing if you skip a class. When you fall behind, it snowballs really quickly and you wind up a million times more anxious than you were the day you needed to skip.” — Hannah Deering, Facebook
2. Embrace procrastination if that’s what works for you.
If you tend to be a procrastinator, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your productivity is stop fighting it, according to James Hambrick, Ph.D., senior clinical psychologist at the Columbia University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders and clinician at the Youth Anxiety Center.
Everyone works differently, and this might just be how you’re most efficient. Instead of beating yourself up about it, consider the possibility that you’re actually morefocused and productive closer to a deadline. “Remind yourself that it’s a part of your process. Normalize it,” says Hambrick. “It might have consequences, but those consequences are less stressful than judging yourself or trying to change who you are.”
3. Maybe consider not guzzling coffee, since that might be making you more anxious.
Caffeine can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety (like increased heartbeat, fidgeting, etc.), so drinking too much of it could make things worse, says Regine Galanti, Ph.D., director of The Center for Anxiety in Brooklyn. If you really need your coffee fix, try cutting half your usual cup with decaf. Or go completely decaf — despite popular belief, that actually does still have some caffeine.
4. Choose your classes strategically so you’re not taking too many test-heavy/writing-heavy/project-heavy courses at the same time.
Figure out what stresses you out the most — whether that’s big papers, tests, presentations, or whatever — and balance your schedule accordingly, says Hambrick. For example, if studying for tests gives you a ton of anxiety, don’t avoid exam-based classes — just balance out that class with others that require essays or projects.
5. Switch up your study location every few hours.
“It gives you a chance to take a break and get some air, but it also keeps you from feeling like you’re in some miserable studying hell you can’t escape.” — Maggy Fitz, Facebook
6. Step away from an assignment when you’re getting too stressed.
Doing something that will cheer you up is preferable (like watching an episode of your favorite half-hour comedy), but if you’re on a tight deadline, even taking a productive break is better than nothing. “Find a task that’s mindless but still useful to the cause, like going back and reorganizing your notes or rereading research you’ve done,” says Hambrick
7. Find an organization method that works for you ASAP.
“My way to organize anxiety so it doesn’t disorganize me: Write EVERYTHING down. Don’t stress about writing it, but just as things come to your mind, write assignments, due dates, things that might be important (such as figure 2.18 was significantly important in this lecture), or anything that might be relevant to class or your life.” — Mishelle Oakley, Facebook
8. Stop pulling all-nighters.
You might think you’re doing yourself a favor by staying up to finish an assignment, but you’re just screwing with your body and potentially making your anxiety worse, says Galanti. So prioritize those Zs.
9. Check out your campus resource center before you think you ~need~ to.
“One of the best parts of being is college is the free counseling, therapy and support groups. That being said TAKE ADVANTAGE of this! Don’t just go when you reach your breaking point or you feel like you’re in crisis mode. Counseling is not just for when you are struggling.” — Leigh Aschenbrenner Kozak, Facebook
10. And if not, at least know when your anxiety is getting in the way of your life — and then seek out help.
There’s a difference between constructive anxiety and destructive anxiety, says Hambrick. Everyone is going to experience anxiety in college since it’s such a transitional, stressful time. But if the anxiety you’re feeling is getting in the way of your everyday life or disrupting your school work, social life, or sleeping or eating habits, it’s probably time to bring in some help. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
11. Break up big projects into little, doable tasks so they’re less overwhelming.
“Make a short list with little goals for the next few hours. Mine always starts out with ‘wake up, brush teeth, comb hair, make coffee, read 10 pages of history.’ Cross them out as you go. Finishing a short, but doable list will help you focus on one thing at a time and pump you up to complete the next small list.”
— Danielle Gatapia, Facebook
12. Ask your professors how they suggest studying for their class.
There’s a difference between college study skills and high school skills, and chances are, you’re going to realize that your study stills aren’t actually so hot, Jan Collins-Eaglin, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students for Wellness and Personal Success atPomona College, tells BuzzFeed Life. There’s going to be a learning curve for picking up the skills you need, but in the meantime, one of the easiest and most helpful things you can do is ask your professors, “What are your tips for studying for thisclass in particular?”
You’ll also get points for going into office hours. Win-win.
13. Schedule time to relax — otherwise, you’ll never get around to it.
“It sounds stupid, but it’s easy to feel guilty when you take time for yourself. Make it a nonnegotiable part of your schedule.” — Caroline Smith, Facebook
14. Ditto for seeing friends and socializing.
“As a student I spent a crazy amount of time alone. To combat the anxiety-ridden loneliness I tried to go out to as much local theatre/improv as I could. This helped me make friends, laugh A LOT, and get out any day of the week. I really recommend this to extrovert students.” — framedflower
15. Let your self cry so you don’t bottle it all up and explode later.
“Watch something that will make you cry. I find that I just bottle up all my stress and crying over something small like a YouTube video or movie will make you feel exponentially better. Letting out steam in small, insignificant, amounts is great for managing anxiety and you wont have a huge breakdown every few weeks.” — Hali’a Ku’uleialohaonalani, Facebook
16. Carry around a sketchbook or notebook to doodle in when you’re feeling wound up.
“I bring a sketchbook with me wherever I go so if I start thinking too much, I have something to distract myself with.” — Erin Elizabeth Croley, Facebook
17. Prep some playlists that help you chill.
“I use music as a relaxation tool. I listen to different types of music depending on what I want to accomplish. Without my iTunes library I would be much more anxious and stressed.”— jakenomics
18. Go outside for reasons other than getting to and from class at least once a day.
“Never underestimate a nice walk around campus with or without your favorite playlist. Sometimes it helps by being around others. You don’t have to speak, and you aren’t alone.” — Sonika Sidher, Facebook
19. Acknowledge your anxiety instead of pressuring yourself to have all your shit together all the time.
“For me what helped best was just letting myself feel anxious. I know that sounds kind of strange, but at first I was putting so much pressure on myself to feel happy and study constantly and get to sleep at a decent hour that I was panicking, and getting nothing done because I was so overwhelmed. I was only able to actually feel good after I just let myself feel tense.” — Maddie Jones, Facebook
20. Give yourself a schoolwork curfew — at least a few nights a week.
“I don’t let myself do schoolwork past a certain time every day (usually 8 or 9). Any time after that I can just hangout with my roomates, watch Netflix or just veg out on my own. Knowing I have that time before I go to bed to just do whatever I need to do helps me keep it together.” — Zoe Elpitha, Facebook
21. Find a mindless ritual like prepping tea or counting beads that’ll calm you down when you get wound up.
— Mairead Hill, Facebook
This list has some things you can do to help yourself chill out.
22. Take five minutes each night to prep for tomorrow.
“The night before class, have your outfit planned, stuff for the day packed, and breakfast planned. This gives you a less stressful morning. Leaving for class calm helps you to stay calm during your class and focus on the actual lecture and not what you maybe forgot.” — rachelc4c3ffb052
23. Keep yourself busy during times when you’re prone to overthinking and stressing yourself out.
“Surprisingly, getting involved on campus really helped. You don’t really have time to sit and let anxiety consume you as much, and you meet people who also share your struggle or people who are just willing and ready to support you.” — SavannahS22
24. Get an app to help you feel like you have every thing together.
Apps aren’t replacements for professional treatment, but there are a ton that help manage everyday symptoms. Check out these apps for anyone dealing with anxiety.
25. Pick at least one class a semester or quarter that’s more enjoyable than it is stressful.
“No matter what your major is, you have room to fit in ONE class that you take just for you. I took painting and it saved me.” — Jessie Thomas, Facebook
26. Know that it’s OK if you’re stressed and anxious sometimes — pretty much everyone is.
Whether you’re dealing with a diagnosed disorder or not, college campuses are pretty much a breeding ground for anxiety. If you start to beat yourself up over how you’re handling things, remind yourself that some stress is normal and it’s not a mark of personal failure, says Galanti.
That said, don’t be a hero trying to power through if you’re feeling consistently overwhelmed or if anxiety is interfering with your daily life. If that’s the case, see a doctor or therapist for help. The sooner, the better.