Trouble sleeping, an upset stomach, having a hard time concentrating, and worrying a lot are just some of the many things that can go along with feeling anxious. When some people feel anxious, it is just a bit uncomfortable and lasts only for a little while. For others, anxiety may feel very intense and last for a longer period of time. No matter how you experience anxiety, it is important to establish healthy ways of coping. Therefore, if you're interested in different ways to deal with your anxiety, keep reading!
The first step in managing anxiety is to recognize when it occurs. Notice what sorts of situations make you feel anxious. You could ask yourself, "When did I start feeling this way?" or "What happened just before I felt anxious?" Some people might feel anxious at the thought of an upcoming test while others might worry a lot about a presentation or feel anxious about many different things at once (e.g., relationships, finances, health). Identifying what exactly makes you anxious can help you to figure out what things you might need to address. In addition to noticing what makes you feel anxious, pay attention to how you express anxiety. Since anxiety can be experienced within our minds, within our bodies, and in our actions, think about all of the ways you might be affected. Do you feel your heart beating faster? Do you find yourself avoiding things? Do you feel irritable with others? Do you tend to focus your thoughts on the worst possible outcome?
Once you have figured out what is causing you to feel anxious, develop a plan of action to deal with the anxiety. For example, if you are anxious about an upcoming test, make a study schedule that is realistic for you to follow. Break projects into smaller steps and reward yourself along the way. Don't avoid dealing with whatever it is that makes you feel anxious because although you may feel less anxious now, you probably will feel more anxious in the future. Student Academic Success Services has a great webpage containing lots of self-help materials to help you succeed academically.
If you find yourself feeling anxious often or that it is having a large effect on your life, you might want to take a self-assessment. It could also be that you may find it helpful to talk to a counselor so you can get additional support. University Counseling & Consulting Services (UCCS) and Boynton Mental Health Services both offer individual and group counseling.
Perhaps most important is that you take care of yourself. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, have fun, and exercise. Re-focus your energy on the positive things in your life. Avoid caffeine, which can make anxiety worse. Take time to relax and be mindful. Regularly practicing relaxation exercises (e.g., deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation) can help with anxiety and improve concentration. Learn more about relaxation techniques from the Mayo Clinic and CalmClinic.
Once you have determined which techniques and lifestyle changes work best for your anxiety, incorporate them into your daily life. That way, it'll be easier to draw upon them in times of need.