It’s the start of a new year, which means it’s almost time to get back to varsity. Some people love the start of a fresh year and are excited to begin classes again. For others, the mere thought of having a new schedule is enough to make them break out in a nervous sweat.
Student anxiety is very common at the start of the varsity year. Anxiety differs from depression, in that while depression is mostly characterised by mood, low self-esteem and lack of energy, anxiety shows itself in excessive worrying, restlessness, irritability and tension.
If you are having obsessive, negative thoughts about going back to varsity – so much so that you have trouble sleeping or concentrating, we have some helpful tips on how to manage anxiety. In severe cases, a doctor might prescribe medication, however there are many other things that you can do to help you cope without medication.
Talk about it with someone
You may feel that your panicky feelings are silly or that no one will understand, but it’s important to let others know what is going on as your anxiety shouldn’t be managed alone
Tell your family that you feel anxious, so that they know why you seem edgy or nervous. Speak to your friends as well – you’ll find that some (if not many) of them are feeling exactly the same way as you. Sharing how you are feeling is a huge weight off your shoulders.
Try not to project into the future
Projecting into the future is a common cause of anxiety. Imagining ‘what if’ situations – what if I can’t cope? What if the work is too hard? What if I don’t have enough time? – is enough to send anyone into a tail spin. Remember that when you do this, you are letting yourself worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. When you notice that you are projecting, bring yourself back to the moment.
Try and live in the now, rather than feeling anxious about an unknowable future.
Manage anxiety by getting organised with a daily planner
If you are worried about how you will be able to cope with a demanding varsity schedule, get yourself a good daily planner or even a notebook.
Having a visual representation of what needs to get done often makes you feel less anxious. Things tend to look much better on paper than they do swimming around in your head. Writing things down will also show you if you have set unrealistic goals for yourself.
Find out what motivates you
Everyone has different things that motivate them. Some people like to-do lists. There is something very satisfying about ticking off things that you have accomplished. Completion of a task helps to manage anxiety by breaking up your tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
For others, setting short term goals with small rewards such as coffee with a friend or even an ice cream (yes you’re not a kid anymore but who doesn’t love ice cream?) helps with making studying feel less daunting.
Create balance between work and play
To be a well-rounded and emotionally healthy human being, you need to find balance between working hard, and doing the things that you enjoy.
When you have too high expectations of how much work you can achieve, and you spend all your time studying, you are bound to feel anxious and stressed. A tried and tested way of managing anxiety, is to include time with friends, playing sports or meditation in your schedule. It is really important to allow yourself this down time.
All in all… be kind to yourself. It’s OK to feel nervous sometimes. However, if you find your anxiety is overwhelming then stop, take a deep breath, talk about it, and focus on putting in positive action. You don’t have to sit in it alone.