Did you know that according to a 2013 study of approximately 30,000 Canadian students from 34 of our largest colleges and universities revealed that:
89% of students felt overwhelmed by their academic workloads?
56% of students felt intense anxiety?
10% of students considered suicide?
Experts can’t deny that this campus crisis is growing rapidly and predict that almost a quarter of post-secondary Canadians will experience a mental health issue – specifically stress, anxiety and/or depression.
Students face numerous burdens throughout their first year and undergraduate career like parental pressures and expectations, rising tuition costs, program competition and criticisms, and just the everyday task of completing assignments on time and studying for upcoming midterms. It is no question that the anxiety becomes too much for students to handle,
but I am not alone, and neither are you!
5 Important Tips and Tricks to Tackling Academic Anxiety
(From the Experts)
1.TAKE DEEP BREATHS!
Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends that you try to control your breathing whenever you feel anxious or stressed. This is a simple coping technique. Inhale and exhale slowly and count to 10. Repeat if necessary, until your breathing and heart rate has slowed down.
2. EAT WELL BALANCED MEALS AND DRINK LOTS OF WATER!
I know that our schedules can get busy, and we often find ourselves skipping meals (or, like me, overeating in times of stress) but maintaining a healthy diet is important for nourishing your body and mind and keeping your body healthy! Personally, a nice cold glass of water refreshes my body and calms my mind during times of anxiety attacks.
3. TAKE TIME TO DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY!
Whether it’s reading or playing video games or dancing in your bedroom to Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”, it is important that you set aside time to spend doing something that you love! By doing something else, you temporarily step away from the problem and give your brain time to clear up.
4. TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!
It’s important to talk to someone instead of keeping your feelings bottled up. Even if you don’t want to talk about what’s bothering you, socializing is important. Talk about something else! Talk about the weather, tell a joke or calmly debate over whether or not pineapples belong on top of pizza.
5. GO OUT INTO NATURE!
Take a walk! You can walk around your block, sit on a bench in the nearest park or even kick a soccer ball around in your backyard. Get away from the busyness and stress of school by absorbing some much needed fresh air and vitamin D. Researchers at Stanford, are experimenting with the ways in which nature affects mental health. As of 2015, their study has found some evidence that being in nature can result in a lower risk of depression.
I wonder if it works virtually.
My First Experience with Post-Secondary Anxiety
I am bad at taking tests. This is a fact. I can remember what it was like to take the calculus exam in first year.
The night before, I couldn’t sleep.
An hour before, my heart rate was through the roof, my palms were clammy, my brain was racing and I suddenly found myself forgetting the basic concepts that would be on the test.
The day of, I walked into the test room, opened the exam, pencil in hand, prepared to answer the questions… then I read the first question… skipped it and read the next one… skipped that one and flipped the page…
I flipped page after page until I reached the final one without answering a single question. I went back to page one, and started again. My anxiety towards doing well actually hindered my performance.
What do I do to combat anxiety?
So now you want tips from someone who’s not an expert? Well…
Personally, I make a ton of lists! I think staying organized is vital! By writing down everything I need to do along with their due dates, I allow my brain some space to breathe. Instead of struggling to remember what I need to do, lists serve as my concrete reminder.
Also in times of anxiety, usually before I need to start studying or before I write an important paper, I listen to music. I limit myself to play one REALLY good song and once it’s finished I get to work. Try choosing a song that you can let loose to, and sing out loud with! My go to: Drake’s Child’s Play.
But overall, I try to stay positive and remember that I am putting 110% into everything I do. When I refrain from negativity, I help myself accomplish tasks and make the anxiety a bit easier to handle.
…There is one more trick I have heard about a little while ago… Let me teach you:
During an anxiety attack place your thumb a fair distance from your mouth so that when you blow on the back of it, you feel cool air. The cool air is supposedly meant to decrease your heart rate through the pulse in your thumb. I have tried it, and it seems to work.
I want you to try it and let me know!
How do you battle with stress and anxiety? Do you have unique tips and tricks?
And remember, there is life beyond the textbooks too,