I’ve definitely struggled with my share of anxiety. Growing up, I always showed signs of being a school-oriented individual. Always studying, always signing up for the demanding classes, and always subjecting myself to loading my schedule with tons of extracurriculars. I soon realized that I had a lot of obligations to fulfill, and only a 24 hour day to get everything done. Soon, I spent hours worrying about tiny details, stressing about things that I really couldn’t change, and worrying about events that weren’t even in my immediate future.
I know that I’m not the only individual to feel this way. Many of us have school, jobs, recreation, relationships, and other obligations that constantly need to be juggled. It’s easy to become anxious, yet very difficult to find methods to feel assured and stay level headed. Here are some ways to achieve just that:
Buy a planner
This one may seem kind of insignificant, but it really helps. Organizing your week can really ease a lot of anxiety. You’ll be able to clearly plan out your classes, appointments, and your goals. Every Sunday, I sit down with my colored pens and go through what my week entails. I mentally prepare and organize everything in a visually pleasing way, and it helps ease my anxiety by allowing me to clearly visualize what I need to do for the week. When you feel confident in your preparedness, you’re less likely to feel as worried for the week ahead.
Find an outlet for your stress
Whether it’s reading, exercising, drawing, or playing an instrument, finding an activity that you enjoy doing in your free time is quite effective at diminishing stress. This doesn’t have to take up a huge chunk of your time. For example, if you have a midterm tomorrow, don’t spend all your time doing yoga instead of studying, but give yourself some free time in moderation. For me, this meant allowing myself to take a break from my work and spend half an hour devoted to music. I noticed that once I allowed myself to have an opportunity to do something that I enjoy for a bit, I didn’t feel as drained when it came to fulfilling my other obligations.
Go for a walk
One of my favorite things about living in Boston for college is that I have the beautiful Public Gardens right across from my dorm. It’s definitely one of my favorite places to walk through (besides Sephora) when I feel overwhelmed or anxious about something. Even if you don’t have a stunning nature setting to take your walks in, giving your body a light exercise scientifically has been proven to release hormones which cause your body stress. It also provides a nice way to clear your mind. Bonus points if you take your dog along on your walk.
Listen to your favorite playlist
I think this one’s a given, but listening to music has always been helpful for me in the past. Create a playlist that makes you happy, a playlist that calms you down, or a playlist that helps you clear your head. Any of those can help you out when you’re feeling anxious.
I’m a stress-eater. It’s a horrible habit to have, but unfortunately it’s one that I do have. In order to combat this is to stock my fridge with healthy foods during any high-stress seasons of my life. It’s way too easy to grab for a bag of chips when you feel stressed. But if you have an apple. yogurt, or even Chex Mix on hand, you won’t feel as sluggish after you snack. Of course, any food can be unhealthy if eaten excessively, so keep everything in moderation.
Generally speaking, Christians really shouldn’t be saving their prayers only for times where they need help. We should be consistent in our offerings of prayer, even when things in life are going perfectly. But of course, lifting up issues to God during times of high anxiety can be very helpful. After all, God listens, and prayer is much more powerful than people think. One of my favorite verses to keep in mind during seasons of anxiety is Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This verse reminds me to be more like Joshua: brave, unafraid of the plan that God has set out for his life, and loyal to the one who placed him where he was.
To sum everything up, there are definitely several ways to help minimize your anxiety and your stress levels. On a more serious note, I really believe that our culture has romanticized anxiety, and almost equated to how stressed you feel with how productive your life must be. You can be a responsible adult with a busy schedule and manage to not feel a great amount of stress. Above all, if you’re concerned that your anxiety is something more serious, it is okay to seek help. Why is it looked down upon to treat mental health any differently than we treat physical health? Take care of yourself. Recognize when you’re too stressed, and do what you can to ease your anxiety. Much love, and best of luck.