Struggling with anxiety can be a difficult reality to face, especially at the start of a new school year. When social interactions become palm sweating, cheek blushing, heart pounding events, it’s more than meager shyness and could mean it’s time to get proactive. Here’s a look at 9 ways you can conquer back to school anxiety and give yourself the best possible start to your new academic year.
Remember Others will be Nervous Too
It may seem small, but this is a big one. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Social Anxiety Disorder affects around 15 million Americans and is the second most commonly diagnosed form of anxiety. Whether you see symptoms or not, chances are there are other students experiencing the same issues as you. Joining a group specifically for social anxiety can help you connect with other students dealing with similar issues and assist with developing healthy coping strategies. It may even help you make some friends while you’re at it. At the very least, know that you’re not alone.
Eat a Balanced Diet
There have been many studies conducted on how our diet affects the levels of anxiety we experience. According to research, certain dietary changes can help mitigate anxiety symptoms. Getting enough magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty and plenty of antioxidants can make an impactful difference on how anxious you feel. A multivitamin may also help with any nutrient deficiencies that can also cause symptoms of anxiety that tumble into our social well-being.
Get Enough Sleep
Symptoms of anxiety are often the result of the body not getting enough rest. According to new research “Sleep loss triggers the same brain mechanisms that make us sensitive to anxiety to begin with—regions that support emotional processing and also regions that support emotion regulation,” says Eti Ben-Simon, a researcher at the neuroscience department of the University of California, Berkeley. To avoid these symptoms make sure you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours each night.
Exercise produces endorphins. Along with acting as a natural painkiller, these neuro chemicals also improve the ability to sleep and reduces stress that may be caused by anxiety. Getting just a ten-minute walk is enough to decrease stress hormones like cortisol, increase immunity and act as a mental distraction that can tame the overthinking that tends to come with social anxiety.
A cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind which can spark anxiety well before your first day. Taking small steps to organize yourself such as utilizing a planner, tracking your syllabi, and making sure your supplies are all accounted for and packed away in an orderly fashion can go a long way to clearing up feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
Take a Tour
Many schools offer free campus tours before school starts. If they don’t or the idea of walking around with a group of strangers doesn’t appeal to you, call ahead and ask if you can take a small stroll around the premise on your own. Making yourself familiar with the grounds can ease anxieties that come with new environments that often feed and tie into social anxiety.
Set Some Goals
Sometimes the best way to keep your mind off of the bad things is coming up with good things to take their place. Whether it’s goals for the year or the day. Find a spot in your planner or phone to write them down. Do you want to join a group? Complete an internship? Stick to a budget? Create a killer resume? Whatever they are, write them down and use them as focal points for your thoughts. When things get tough, look to your goals and start thinking of the steps you can take to achieve them.
Reach out to Peers
Going back to school is tough already but going back to school not knowing anyone is even worse. Fortunately, with today’s social media, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with people going to the same school as you before it starts. Meeting people can be tough for numerous reasons, but it doesn’t need to be. Making acquaintances online before the big day can take a huge dip out of those first day jitters.