Will I be doing okay in that new class that I'm joining alone?
And will I flunk that written exam even though I have prepared 10 times since last last week? Okay, now I’m feeling really nauseous, my muscles are tensing up.
Oh God, I think I’m losing sleep tonight, again.
This script has been running through my head as someone who is going through a very special period of time, called college life.
Not a kid anymore, but not yet fully an adult with all the responsibilities. It’s a very strange period of time where there is lots of freedom, little supervision, a lot of tuition fees paid, and yet we are accountable for the result at the end of the four years that will launch us to the working world of the adults.
Uncertainty. Uncertainty. Uncertainty.
If this is not anxiety-provoking, then tell me what is?
Separation of family and friends back in hometown and the need to make new friends/connections again.
Feeling of drowning in uncertainty.
Feeling of restlessness.
Feeling of fear, lots of that.
Somehow the use of social media actually exacerbate that. FOMO, fear of missing out, is also one type of fear.
Okay, so above was actually one year ago. I’m in a much much much better place now. How did I get from there to here? Let me share with you guys some tips.
People who have anxiety problems usually are quite hard on themselves in terms of expectations of outcome. The phrase “What if….” is perpetually running in their heads. I have learnt that essentially anxiety is the fear of the FUTURE. So when I catch my thoughts running ahead of time, I will bring them back to the present and put things into perspective.
“What is the worst that can happen to me if I flunk this exam? Will I die? Nope. Will my loved ones leave me? Nope. Will this be in my black history forever and I will never get a decent job ever? Nope.”
So yeah, after I run through the worst possible outcomes that can happen, my mind usually calms down. I always think of poor kids in the war zones, I mean they are having real difficulties in life, so in comparison, how bad can I do? It is just college life!
In my worst moments, I miraculously met a Yogi who taught me a very simple trick: count the breaths; focus the attention on how the air flows in and out of my lungs. I did this daily and it worked to rewire part of my brain that controls fear. After all, mind is like a muscle, one needs to exercise it the right way. I practiced this for one month. Guess what? It worked like a charm.
To mix things up a little so it is not too boring, I also went to youtube and searched for clips on self-hypnosis that focused on dealing with anxiety, such as this one below:
There are many of these on Youtube, you could choose different ones everyday to do it right before sleep and upon waking up. How this works is similar to meditation: it works to rewire your mind.
If you are the active type of person and can’t sit still for mediation, then pick a hobby that relaxes you. Hmmm, any type of sports? Or video games? Or window shopping (for girls like me)? I personally enjoy going to cosmetic stores and trying out all kinds of new items, it is to me like a candy store to a little kid lol.
Yes, but don’t get competitive and have some kind of end goal in mind. This is supposed to be RELAXING.
We all need our support system. We left our support system back home when we joined campus life. Now we need to develop a new one. Finding buddies that get you is a game of probability. But I would say the key is to get out there and meet people. Among 10 new acquaintances you meet, 1 or 2 may really get your jokes and connect with you in a deep way. And Voila! That’s a support system. For an introvert like me, 1 or 2 really really close friends are enough and I am a happy girl=)
Finally, as a student, I had a big problem with procrastination. But what it did to me was that I panicked before exams. Now that I have learnt that procrastination is a form of perfectionism. And the cure is like that Nike logo “Just do it!” Yes, just get started, and the momentum will build up, so will the confidence. And I now sleep like a baby before the big exam day=).
I think that’s all for me. I’m really interested to know what you guys think on this topic? Any experiences or tips to share? Just leave comments below yeah? Let's discuss.