You are up at 10 p.m. at your desk, poring over hastily scrawled notes from a lecture you were admittedly not quite paying attention to. There is an alarm on your desk ready to wake you up bright and early, but you are still experiencing thoughts of uncertainty and a particular unwillingness to believe you will perform well on your test tomorrow. You even experience a physical symptom in that you can’t stop shaking in anticipatory dread.
If such thoughts and even physical symptoms are a consistent occurrence, you may be experiencing trouble with a rather well-known concept called anxiety.
Anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
It is probably not hard to at least develop from that definition the thought that college students who experience the continued stress of classes might eventually start to show cracks in their composure or emotional fortitude. To say these problems can be particularly troublesome when you are just attempting to prepare for an upcoming test or final is true, but they are certainly not insurmountable.
At times, anxiety can be very justified, but should you let it adversely affect performance in school or at work? Many would agree that they generally do not want such feelings negatively impacting their personal or professional lives. Luckily, there are a number of ways to deal with anxiety, whether they be self-coping strategies or looking for help from a trusted friend or professional.
“I have a system where whenever I’m feeling anxious, I will go for a run,” said Kate Dearman, a senior double major in public relations and photojournalism. “I also focus more on artistic pursuits, and use a journal to write down my feelings and relate them to the facts that create those feelings.”
Though anxiety may affect many students and people, it is very possible to personalize your own strategies in a manner that best fits and is most effective for yourself.
“What I like to do is prioritize the things I’m anxious about,” said Nicolas Kubicki, a sophomore news editorial journalism major. “I also prioritize what things I feel are most important and just regulate how I feel based on that.”
Something important to realize when discussing anxiety is that it is not necessarily an abnormal reaction to a continued state of distress. Many individuals will experience some form of anxiety at some point in their lives. There are many real life examples in which a response of anxiety is quite appropriate, but at times such feelings may begin to have a detrimental effect.
There are many helpful general responses an individual can take to combat these feelings. At times, it is appropriate to take a break, relax and entertain yourself with your hobbies. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends such activities as keeping your body in shape, taking deep breaths to calm yourself and talking to someone you trust about your current feelings.
If you feel that your anxiety is beginning to develop into a more severe problem, it is not an obstacle you have to face alone. USM has free counseling services which are available to students in order to promote helpful coping strategies and to provide ears to listen to anyone who feels they need counseling.
If you need assistance with your anxiety and believe you need counseling, Student Counseling Services can be reached at 601.266.4829. You can also check their website for staff names and emails. Remember that no matter what, you are not alone in your struggles.