Fighting Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are rampant in the U.S. today, affecting over 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 or older, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a particular anxiety disorder, most adults and college students will deal with anxiety at one point or another. Between classes and homework, social lives and relationships, work and finances, it can be easy to feel like you’re in over your head. If you’re struggling to fight stress and anxiety while attending school, take a look at the list below and see if any of these ideas provide you some relief.

1. Exercise

Regular exercise can do a lot to lessen the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Even if you’re not able to get on some sort of regular schedule, a bit of exercise here and there can still do some good. Physical activity increases endorphins in your body—chemicals in your brain which essentially act as natural painkillers. Regular exercise can also improve sleep which is also a natural reducer of stress.

Whatever you have to do to try and make it happen—do it! Enlist the help of a friend or roommate to help you get up and go for a walk before classes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make yourself a sticker chart with prizes for making it to the gym a certain number of times in one week. Watch pilates YouTube videos and jump about in your dorm room. It doesn’t really matter the “vehicle” in which you use to exercise. It just matters that you’re moving.

2. Enlist the help of a professional

If you think you’re struggling with some pretty serious anxiety, stress, or depression, it’s time to connect with a professional. Most colleges and universities have free counseling services, and they have the resources to refer you somewhere else if they think that would be more beneficial for you. Sometimes, though, it’s just really healthy and stress-relieving in itself to talk through your concerns with someone who wants to listen and be there for you.

If you’re worried about going to counseling in the first place, ask a friend or loved one if he or she would be willing to go with you for moral support. Isolation is what really makes the symptoms of stress and anxiety worse. We need each other in this world, so try talking with someone about your anxiety or stress and let them support you.

3. Go outside and take a breather

Along with isolation, anxiety and stress make us want to sink into ourselves in sadness, turn off the lights, close the shades, and not interact with others or our surroundings. Sometimes, when stress mounts, it’s time to simply take a break and get outside. Going for a hike, or taking a walk in some sort of green space can do a lot to fix the overwhelming feeling of stress you might be trying to fight back.

Wherever your campus is, try and take some time to get outside in one way or another: play frisbee on the beach, have a picnic, or study your books while leaning against a tree. It sounds like it could be too simple, but being outside can really help your attitude and outlook.

4. Spend some time with the Lord

This is not to say that you can pray away your anxiety; although, anything is possible with God. If you are suffering, it’s important that you seek medical assistance. That doesn’t mean, though, that your heavenly Father can’t help you. Spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, and journaling your thoughts can help you work through the ways you are viewing your life circumstances in ways that are not helpful.

If you’re a follower of Christ, remembering that your identity is safe in Him and reading about who you are as a child of God can do a lot to relieve the anxiety you might be struggling with. Not only that, but God deeply cares for you and all the things that are causing you stress. He makes a way for His people, even if it’s a way you might not expect. Isaiah 41: 10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”