Overcoming College Anxiety
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By Parmida Hemati

At the start of every academic year, college campuses are filled with anxious students who find themselves in unfamiliar situations. Faced with rigorous courses, more responsibilities, and new circumstances, it is usual for people to be afraid of the ‘new world’ they have entered into. Students are often flooded with worries, negative thoughts, and anxieties that seem almost impossible to overcome, leaving “no place for happiness to emerge from within,” as stated by Monk John. Anxiety regarding college is a universal experience and stems from different issues such as inexperience, fear, and expectations; however, there are many remedies to ease the mind and find comfort in the new environment.

1. Inexperience

Nervous Student with Anxiety

It is natural to find comfort in things that are familiar, so new situations are always scary. According to Monk John, these anxieties often stem from ignorance. Misinformation received from others can lead to false judgments and fearing the worst. Students doubt their ability to succeed or adapt to campus life because the change can be “overwhelming and daunting” 1. Some feel nervous because they do not know how to navigate the campus, get to classes, approach their peers, or find friends.

Solution

The internet is a good place to find people to relate to, or seek sources that help soothe your worries. There are many videos on various social media platforms where people talk about their college experience and how they have managed to thrive. Watch videos or find websites that give helpful advice, and refrain from those which seem toxic and draining. Be mindful of the type of information you are consuming and how much you are consuming. Monk John states that sometimes we bombard ourselves with so much information that we become even more overwhelmed. It is how “we manage our feelings and emotions with the information we will receive” that will generate the best outcome. Additionally, dedicating a day or two to exploring the surroundings and becoming familiar with the campus can save you from unnecessary stress on the first day.

2. Loneliness

Nervous Student with Anxiety

A study done in 2018 revealed that the “sharpest increase in anxiety occurs during the initial transition to college” 2. A possible cause of that could be loneliness in a new environment. Students could be leaving their friends and family behind to enter a new stage in their lives, and feel they have lost their support system.

Solution

Meditation can help soothe the feeling of isolation. As stated by Monk John, meditation and mindfulness help us become the source of our own happiness rather than being dependent on others. Meditation can even help make a person feel at home and provide them with a sense of security. Additionally, college is a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and goals. Attend college events, join a school club or organization, and talk to people around campus. A good social life and a sense of community decrease feelings of loneliness and lead to a better quality of life 3.

3. The future

Nervous Student with Anxiety

In many instances, people are living in the future instead of living in the present moment. This causes anticipatory anxiety, which is fear of what will happen in the future 4. One could worry about what grades they will receive in college, whether they will be successful, or what they plan to do after college.

Solution

Meditation can mute the negative voices in the mind, help organize thoughts, and help calm down. It provides one with a sense of “peace and balance” which contributes to “emotional well-being” and overall health 5. The future will remain hazy and unclear if you always worry about it. Monk John believes we are the creators of our own futures, and if we want them to be “bright, secure and promising,” we must try out best in the present time. Always live in the moment.

4. Failure and expectations

Nervous Student with Anxiety

Making mistakes, flunking tests, picking an ill-suited major, and being unable to meet certain expectations are all connected to the fear of failure and lack of self-esteem. Both are major obstacles to achieving goals and tend to hinder progress, leading to self-sabotage.

Solution

Question what is causing a cycle of reinforced self-doubt. Is it low confidence? Past decisions that led to unwanted results? The expectations that have been set for you by others? The possibilities are endless; but, these negative thoughts are often influenced by a person’s surroundings. Associate with people who do not drain your energy or make you feel bad about yourself, indulge in relaxing activities like meditation that help lower your stress after a busy day, and be kinder to yourself. Unrealistic expectations are “unhelpful expectations” 6 that only create more problems, not progress.

As Monk John says, life is full of uncertainties and we cannot control everything that comes our way. What we can do is “take it easy, one day at a time.” Be confident in the decisions you make. As long as your mind is in the present instead of the future, life will seem much more fulfilling.