Anxiety and College

There’s no doubt about it: the process of searching for, applying for, and transitioning into college can be anxiety inducing. It’s also very exciting, but there can be some stressors that come into play along the way. Between selecting the right school, figuring out financial aid, shopping for school supplies, moving into your dorm, finding all your classes, and adjusting to new styles of homework and teaching, it’s no wonder that some students struggle with anxiety during the transition from high school to college.

If you find that stress and anxiety are starting to take over your day-to-day existence, it’s time to make a move and do something about this issue. Read on for some healthy ways to approach this issue and move forward with life.

1. Admit there’s a problem

Anxiety is sort of invisible—when you look for it on the outside. While it may seem like your roommate or sister isn’t feeling anxious, the reality is that many people struggle with anxiety, at different levels, all over the world. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step to recovery, but that certainly takes a big dose of humility to speak out and say you need help. If you ignore the issue, your anxiety may only progress until it becomes debilitating and leads to panic attacks or other serious problems.

2. Quit self-medicating in unhealthy ways

You might not even realizing you’re doing this, but it’s common for those who suffer from anxiety to self-medicate in order to make themselves feel better. Eating excessive amounts of junk food, drinking alcohol, smoking, over-sleeping, and sitting in front of the television for hours on end are just a few examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

These coping mechanisms often make things worse because they’re not only destroying the body, but they destroy the soul and result in an endless stress cycle. Dealing with stress and anxiety through healthy coping mechanisms, like going for a run, talking to a loved one, or journaling will ensue much better (and healthier!) results.

3. Watch what you’re putting in your mind 

While Netflix might be fun and stress-relieving, it’s important to make sure you’re filling your mind with life-giving things. Same goes with music, as well as the people you’re spending time with. Philippians 4:8 says this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

What we think about affects us both physically and emotionally. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, has a lot to say on this topic and is a great resource. Instead of putting toxic things in your mind, take the initiative to put whole, pure, life-giving things like Bible verses, good books, encouraging words from friends, and uplifting media in your brain.

4. Don’t forget the Lord—but also, consider seeing a doctor

We are spiritual beings, and we live in a world that is at war. God made us to flourish, but the devil would like nothing better than to see us suffer and wither. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the power of prayer, Christian community, and the truth of Scripture.

At the same time, we live in a world that allows the gift of modern medicine. This isn’t a rejection of God’s power—it can be considered a provision of his grace. Medicine isn’t the end-all solution to anxiety issues, but it can help tremendously if you’re a candidate. Don’t be afraid to see a doctor and find out if that’s the right path for you.

Hold onto Christ as your lifeline 

In summary, suffering is really hard. But with God, it’s never meaningless. There are some things you simply can’t learn unless you go through a season of hardship, and it may look like your holding onto Jesus with white knuckles as you ride through some tumultuous emotions.

There certainly are valleys in life, but there is a way out, and it might look a little different for each person. Don’t miss what the Lord may have for you right where you are, and don’t lose hope. It won’t be like this forever, and one day, you’ll have the empathy to walk alongside someone who is struggling similarly to how you did.