University can be a stressful time of your life.
I still remember the nervous breakdown I had at the end of my first year; curled up into a ball, hyperventilating, and clutching onto Media Law 101 on the floor of my prison-like halls.
For anyone else that has felt that impending sense of existential doom, whilst walking through campus, you’ll know exactly how devastating it is to be in the grips of anxiety.
Most people feel like they can’t escape when the disorder hits. You constantly feel on edge and panicky while the weight of the world crushes you down.
It took me years, but I managed to find a way out of the stress and suffering and would like to now pass that knowledge onto you. I’m no psychologist, however, I feel like I’ve beaten something that many people often feel trapped in for the rest of their lives.
Mindfulness (being in the moment)
Stemming from Buddhism, mindfulness is simply the act of being aware of the present moment. Most of the time we’re so consumed by our own thoughts, especially when anxiety rears it’s ugly head with it’s ‘what ifs’ and ‘when wills’.
The idea behind the concept of mindfulness is that you allow yourself into a state of ‘non-thought’. You do this through mediation.
Simply sit and focus on your breathing. Any thought that comes by, let it pass and don’t judge it in anyway shape or form. It takes practice, so I would recommend taking 5 minutes a day to meditate until you master it.
Mindfulness helps tremendously with anxiety by calming the mind. If you want to launch yourself into self-awareness quickly, you should focus entirely on your sense perceptions. Honestly, next time you’re in a situation that makes you feel anxious just focus on your sense of touch, smell, taste, sound and sight.
This grounds you to your environment and gets you out of your head.
Right now, just focus on your breathing and every sense you can feel. From the feeling of your feet against the ground to the sound of birds chirping outside. Just take it all in, you may just realise just how much you were tensing up too.
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind – By Shunryu Suzuki
The Power of Now – By Eckhart Tolle
Organising yourself (Making Lists)
If you suffer from severe anxiety, you may engage in compulsive behaviour when in the peak of an attack. Many people are known to excessively clean or organise items when anxious as a subconscious way to take your mind off of it.
These behaviours are no good, of cause, however why not fill the gap with a positive and practical habit? When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with all of your responsibilities, simply take a step back and make a list.
Not only does the act of actually making a list calm you down due to the repetitiveness and the focus required, but it also calms you in a practical way.
Once you’ve made the list, you may actually realise how small and insignificant your worries actually were. Multiple times I’ve done this whilst on the verge of a meltdown, before actually looking at my list and noticing that I only had a very minute amount of tasks to complete.
It’s also good to keep your whole life organised, by keeping in check with calendars and to-do-lists. Really simple simple stuff, but actually having your life and responsibilities written down and planned out puts you at ease. This is because there’s no longer any worry to remember things, as you have it all written down already, to refer to later.
Eat That Frog – By Brain Tracey
The Power Of Habit – By Charles Duhigg
Take on one task at a time
There’s a myth going around that multitasking makes you more efficient.
It actually hinders your productivity. Even Einstein was a strong believer in less is more when it comes to getting stuff done. This is even on a day-to-day basis. Entrepreneur Dale Carnegie popularised the term ‘Living in Day tight compartments’. This is a concept that stresses the importance of living each day as it comes. So you take on each priority individually, day-by-day.
This has helped me tremendously, as I no longer sit and worry about my future. Rather I focus on getting all my work done today, as well a I possibly can. You can never do a good job of anything if you’re riddled with anxiety.
Stop Worrying and Start Living – By Dale Carnegie
The Slight Edge – By Jeff Olson
Focus on the Positives
Most, if not all anxiety is created by focusing on negative scenarios. It sounds really cliché and oversimplified, but you should focus on the positives at all times.
No matter how your life’s going, there is always a way to find fault in it. No matter how happy you are, if you try to, you can find the negatives. Why not flip it round and find the positives in everything?
It makes for a much stronger and positive mentality and avoids those negative scenarios coming up in your head that most probably will ever happen anyway. So really you’re just wasting time and making yourself unhappy from thinking about the potential negative outcomes.
The Power Of Positive Thinking – By Norman Vincent Peel
Mindset – Carol Dweck
Starting and stopping creative projects has always soothed anxiety for me. Whether it be starting a photography page or writing a blog, it keeps your mind busy.
This isn’t much of a concept just something you do. Find a form of self expression whether it be art, music or even dance and then apply that into a project with goals.
When you immerse yourself in it, whatever it is, you’ll forget all your worries, guaranteed.