Our guest blogger today is my daughter Rachel, a 21-year-old Communication Studies major. To say that Rachel is a delight is an understatement. I could never adequately put into words how her very being blesses me daily. She is hilarious, smart, incredibly capable, creatively talented, brave, and beautiful.
Rachel also struggles with anxiety. In this post, she shares some of her process learning to manage anxiety in college. Her advice at the end is REALLY GOOD STUFF - please pass this on to the college students in your life!
My Rough Start to College
Coming into college was rough. I didn’t really know anyone. I didn’t exactly want to be in college but I didn’t know what else to do. I started college in January instead of the fall semester like most other students, which was a challenge. Most people had already established friend groups and routines, and I felt like I couldn’t break into those cycles. I was doing okay until I started skipping class, and missing class means missing lessons and material. Then I’d get nervous I wouldn’t understand what I’d missed, so I wouldn’t go back to class. I’d get so worried about my missed days that I would throw up before class, or stay up all night anxiously thinking about sitting in a classroom.
What Helped Me Manage Anxiety
What has helped my anxiety most is owning it for myself. I HAVE an anxiety disorder. And for a long time, I just didn’t accept that. I didn’t allow that to be a part of me and fighting it made things worse. Owning my anxiety helped me actively fight back against it; it helped me find peace.
I also use my weighted blanket whenever I feel anxious, and I sleep with it every night. My freshman and sophomore years of college, girls would come to my dorm room just to use my “stress blanket,” also affectionately called “big ole rice sock.” Also, literally just going to class dropped my classroom anxiety from a 9 to a 2. (Note to self: You can sit in a classroom for an hour and be uncomfortable, I promise.)
What I Wish I’d Done Sooner
I wish I had started talking to people about my anxiety way before I did. But with any mental health problem, you feel like a burden for even considering bringing it up to someone. The more I’ve spoken up and out about my struggles and my challenges, the more I’ve gained a sense of mutual understanding and community around both anxiety and depression.
Learning How to Take Care of Myself
A big part of managing anxiety is taking good care of yourself. As far as self-care tips, I’d say everyone needs to do some investigating and find out what self-care means to them. We mostly talk about retail therapy or a “Treat Yo Self” mindset. But self-care can be just washing your face or cleaning out your car, or changing the laces in your shoes. You get to decide how to take care of your brain, your body, and your heart. As soon as you know what works for you, start doing it! I use an app called Pacifica that has really helped me work on self-care and mindfulness.
Photo Credit: Rachel Durham's Instagram
- Rachel Durham
Dorm room picture from Pinterest