6 Ways for College Students to Reduce Anxiety

Whether you’re stuck between difficult coursework, online exams or coping with a non-traditional semester experience, it’s totally okay—and normal—to feel overwhelmed. In fact, nearly 41 percent of college students cite anxiety as their largest primary day-to-day concern. If you’re far from home and a regular support network or unable to participate in your typical de-stressing activities, here are six alternative methods to reduce your anxiety:

1. Take a digital detox.

While phones, iPads and laptops may all be essential to your studies, they can also harm your mental health when used in excess. The overload of information from social media, combined with anxiety from outside factors, can exacerbate your feelings of frustration. Instead of doom-scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, try taking a break and focusing your attention on a different form of media outside your regular routine. If you need to set boundaries, try using the “screen time” function to limit daily use of specific apps.

2. Scale back your stressors.

Examine the events, people or experiences that are causing you the most stress. Are all of them essential? Can you remove any of these anxiety triggers from your daily routine? By reducing the amount of opportunities for frustration throughout the day, we allow ourselves more space to cope with our regular responsibilities. Remember, that setting boundaries is a healthy practice—your peers don’t need to agree with them to respect them.

3. Listen to your body.

More often than not, our bodies are telling us what they need—whether it’s food, sleep or a small break, taking care of our physical needs can have a dramatic impact on our mental health. If you’re struggling to regularly exercise or eat nutritious meals, don’t try to tackle a new lifestyle all at once. Pick one small goal in the beginning, like beginning the day with fruits and vegetables, and focus on achieving that goal before moving onto another milestone.

4. Embrace meditation.

Guided breathing and meditation are some of the best ways to begin your day or decompress from a stressful situation. While this practice may look different from student to student, here are some basic principles to guide your approach:

  • Time: Set aside a specific block of time during your day to practice breathing and meditation.
  • Place: Make sure your location is distraction-free. In a campus dorm, this can be difficult—consider waking up an hour earlier or staying in during lunch to catch some peach and quiet.
  • Practice: Begin by slow, focused breaths as you move into a meditative state. If you’re unable to keep your mind clear for a long duration of time, consider using meditation guide videos to take you through the process and maintain your focus.

5. Build a support network.

It’s possible that during the Covid-19 pandemic, your social circle has gotten a little smaller because you needed to stay safe. While it’s important to continually follow the guidelines of health professionals and campus advisors, don’t forget to connect with your roommates or (digital) friends. A listening ear can do wonders when we’re feeling alone.

6. Leverage campus resources.

If you’re not sure how to address your anxiety or need additional support, reach out to your university’s student services center to understand what resources exist to help decrease student anxiety. Often, schools will provide free or low-cost therapy and counselling services to help you navigate your stress. Before you begin this process, remind yourself that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, and it’s okay to ask for help. As you begin to make small changes to improve your anxiety, don’t be afraid to share your experience with roommates or friends—you never know who might be experiencing the same thing!