Taking anxiety by the reins

Featured Perspectives

By: Lizzy Boudah, Staff Writer

It is no doubt that students in college may face the struggle of having emotional setbacks. In 2013, the American Psychological Association wrote that, in a survey of college students, 41.6% identified as having anxiety. Anxiety can be very hard to live with if untreated, and as the years go on, more and more students are known to having anxiety attacks due to stress or other factors.

Anxiety can be caused by a variety of things: like the environment, genetics, medical factors, or brain chemistry (Medical News Today). It can impact and even worsen the symptoms of depression, insomnia, and PTSD. Whether it stems from past relationships, a broken household, or just lack of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, coping with this mental illness can be a challenge. Students’ brains can be overloaded with homework, studying, and other background factors that distract them from their everyday lives.

With anxiety, it can be hard for people to want to get out of bed due to the fear that their brain sends through their body. It can make them stay up later than they desire, which then causes sleep deprivation, which can cause academic issues. This, in turn, casts more anxiety on to the students and the cycle starts all over again. Luckily, there are ways to ease this fear and some have been proven to calm the body down.

For those who are more creative than others, art has been proven to help ease anxiety. According to Dr. Katharina Star, “…self-expression can help you resolve inner conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, lessen stress, and increase your self-awareness” (Treating Anxiety with Art Therapy). Through creative release, such as painting, drawing, calligraphy, or ceramics, students could learn to let go of their stresses in beautiful ways rather than destructive. This can be especially helpful for students that prefer hands-on learning or other activities, and every piece is made to remind themselves that anxiety is something that can be overcome.

Another good method of handling anxiety is physical activity. Exercise is known to release dopamine which helps the body stay more positive in the long run. If a student is anxious about their weight, for example, a good idea would be to take a walk to just cool down, burn some calories, and release some stress through the body and with the Earth. Stretching and yoga are also known to be helpful as they’re both meant to relax the body and release not only muscle tension, but mental tension as well. Treating your body right through exercise will help you feel better both physically and mentally, and can even be done with friends! Students around the globe already do workouts with their friends, especially when they’re afraid of a gym. Going with a person you trust can significantly help boost confidence and keep you on the right track!

Here at USM, there are several outlets for the students. In Gorham, the Health and Counseling Services (located in Upton) provide up to 12 free sessions a semester for students who seek help. They can be contacted at this number: 207-780-5411. There are also services in Portland for commuter students or for those with classes on that campus. They are located in the basement of the Sullivan Gym and can be contacted at 207-780-4050 (Counseling line). The Disabilities Services Center (located in 242 Luther Bonney, Portland) also have very good resources for students and are always willing to help if anyone needs them. If registered with documented anxiety, they may even be able to grant students accommodations should an anxiety attack happen in class! They can be reached at: 207-780-4706.

Your RA or RD are also great people to turn to if you find yourself to be struggling. They’re here for you if you need them! Never be afraid to reach out to them if you need to, you are never alone. They can be reached through various phone numbers in each individual hall, or email them and ask!

You are stronger than your anxiety. Always remember that!

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