OP/ED: Anxiety, Anyone?

OP/ED: Anxiety, Anyone?

I was recently browsing through Twitter, and I stumbled upon a few Tweets that said something along the lines of “My anxiety is getting worse. It’s getting to me. Help. School stress is killing me.”

When I saw that message, I automatically said, “Wow, everyone really does say that a lot.”

Now being college students, we all know the meaning of stress and anxiety on a daily basis. But do we really know what stress and anxiety means? 

The dictionary definition of anxiety is, fear or nervousness about what might happen, while the definition of stress is, a state of mental or emotional strain, or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  

Since the semester’s coming to a halt, being the college students we are, we’re under the stress of getting in assignments on time, making sure every payment’s paid when its due, studying for exams, trying to juggle school as well as a part time job, and just trying to deal with life in general.

That is normal – we all have school stress. But some have anxiety and stress to a whole other level that some may not understand. 

Panic attacks are real. Very real. Stress is real. For those that don’t know – panic attacks are the opposite of fun. 

The feeling of your chest tightening, gasping for air, even though you are outside. Your head spinning out of control, not being able to focus, feeling shaky and not being able to control your body. All of that when happening at the same time is a scary feeling.

Unfortunately, anxiety and stress is a part of life. We all have to deal with it at some point in our lives and get through it. But sometimes, anxiety can get the best of us, and we start to let it interfere in our daily life.

We usually forget to realize that there is good stress and there is bad stress.

Good stress helps you grow in life and challenges you to do better, and become the type of person you want to be.  However, when too much stress and anxiety builds up in our system, it can cause some serious health risks and become a burden in life.

Recently there has been a spike in college students dealing with mental illness; in 2010 the New York Times reported that nearly half of college students are seeking counseling for their illness. That is double the amount since the year 2000. That is a serious and alarming statistic.

For most, blaming stress and anxiety is a daily chore. Not getting assignments in on time,  or saying “oh I’m just so stressed.” Not showing up to class and saying “oh I slept in. I’ve been stressed lately.”

Blaming everything on stress and not taking responsibility for your own actions and mistakes causes some to not believe anyone when they actually have stress or anxiety. 

I recently had a conversation with someone about all of this; being stressed out, having anxiety, having  panic attacks, everything. Once we started talking about what we were stressed about, the list seemed like it was never ending.

Panic attacks, on the other hand, was a whole other ball game. Just simply thinking about one of those situations we were in, all the memories came flooding back. Just the thought threw us back into that moment and almost had another panic attack. 

To think this was just a memory of a stressful situation we were in. This got me thinking about those who actually have panic attacks every single day.

How do they handle those situations, when we can’t even handle a memory? It’s heart wrenching. 

Anxiety and stress are serious matters. We can’t just joke around or throw the phrases like, “I’m stressed” or “my anxiety is so bad” like it’s not serious.

Some people deal with it on such deeper levels than those of us who are not clinically diagnosed. 

I admit I use those phrases a little too often, especially when times get tough and I just don’t have the energy for things. But I have come to realize that I can’t just blame it on stress. I have to step up to the challenges that life throws at me and deal with it. I also have come to learn how to somewhat manage my stress and anxiety. 

Learning how to cope with stress and anxiety isn’t easy, but there are a few ways to calm yourself down if you feel you are getting to the point of breaking down.

A walk does wonders.

A brief 15 to 30 minute walk helps calm you down and slows down your heart rate. As does taking a few deep breaths and closing your eyes. 

Sit or lay down, close your eyes and just breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth a few times and that also helps calm your mind and heart. 

Another technique I picked up is writing down my thoughts and how I feel at that moment. Whether it be on my phone, or on a random piece of paper. Writing helps clear your mind of anything that may be bothering you. It doesn’t have to be full paragraphs or sentences, it can be random blurbs that you want to write down. 

We will always have a day or two where we just have too much on our plate and bite off more than we can really chew. But hey, that’s life. We will figure out how to deal with all the stress that comes into our lives, we just have to keep on doing what we are doing and let the rest fall into place. 

Life goes on, and so must we.