Mental Health

5 Ways to Support a College Student Struggling With Anxiety

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Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Guest post by Beth Rush

College students are struggling with pressure now more than ever. They returned to campus post-pandemic with new fears and concerns they never knew existed. How does anxiety affect college students and what can be done to help them?

The stress of societal pressure alone could send troubled students into a spiral of anxious thoughts and tendencies. Knowing how to recognize signs of anxiety in college students is vital. There are ways to help them cope by offering guidance and support when they might need it most.

Stress Management for College Students

college student

Managing stress is a huge factor in dealing with anxiety since high levels worsen anxiety. Controlling it can keep tension at bay or maintain it more efficiently. Symptoms of depression and anxiety have affected up to 44% of college students. Encourage your child to recognize the signs of stress so they know how to better deal with them when they arise. It’s also good for you to understand what signs to look for in their behavior.

Signs of depression and anxiety go hand in hand. Although they are different, their symptoms are almost the same. Difficulty handling a routine workload and becoming overwhelmed in school are signs of depression and anxiety. Others include experiencing low self-esteem, angry outbursts, a lack of energy and changes in sleep patterns. If your child struggles to find interest in activities they were previously engaged in, they might suffer from one of these conditions. 

What Parents Can Do to Support a College Student

college student

Every student is different, but there are ways to combat stress and anxiety that are pretty versatile. Utilizing these strategies can help you notice signs in your child that they might not be able to understand enough to talk about.

1. Listen

Listening is a crucial part of parenting. Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in the point you were trying to make to your child that you forgot to stop and listen to their side? Perspective offers insight and, at times, education. You have to listen to what your children are telling you and be able to read between the lines. When your child is struggling, they might not know how to ask for help. It’s your job as their parent to see their struggles and point them in the direction they need to go for assistance.

2. Encourage Advisement

Anxiety can cause people to feel isolated or too timid to ask for help. Acknowledge that your child might need to confide in their college adviser. Encourage them to reach out and gain some guidance. These professionals are there for students to assist their transition into a college lifestyle. Their workload might be too overwhelming or their classes might be unbalanced. Advisers can switch class schedules around or offer insight on how to make students’ lives easier.

3. Suggest Study Groups

If the workload seems too challenging for your child, perhaps they need to find a group of peers to study with. This is an excellent way to meet new people and adjust to college life. Study groups allow students to socialize and meet like-minded people that might help them not feel so alone.

Study groups are essentially for studying and can help point students in the right direction when they’re used to working at a lower level of education. They might even provide a chance to find a mentor that can take your child under their wing and be their guide for their first year of college. Meeting new people for a specific reason, like studying, might alleviate some anxiety usually associated with introductions.

What Students Can Do For Themselves

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College is a trying time for anyone. It is challenging to work while going to school. Staying on top of that workload while managing stress can be challenging to say the least. Anxiety can creep in when you least expect it and cause you to crumble under its weight. Don’t let it. Resources are available that will help you manage if you find yourself turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.

4. Make Healthy Decisions

Physical and emotional health are mutually exclusive, especially in school. A healthy lifestyle can improve anxiety symptoms and contribute to your overall health. Eat a balanced diet and try to exercise regularly. Working out twice a week doesn’t take that much time out of your schedule and has plenty of health benefits that make it worth your while. Stress from college life can lower your immune system, but exercise will combat that by boosting it.

5. Talk to a Doctor

Seek help for any issues or feelings you might be experiencing. Sometimes all you need is an unbiased opinion and someone to talk to. That is what doctors are for. A doctor may also help you determine whether or not persistent anxiety is a sign of an anxiety disorder, as well as different treatment options available to you. 

They exist to help you in every area of your life that you aren’t excelling in. Your goal in college is to prepare yourself for future success. Set yourself up for that by prioritizing your health as much as your education.

Ways to Ease Anxiety

college student

There are numerous avenues for college students experiencing anxiety. Do what you can to support your child and make sure they know that resources are available to them. They should never feel like they are alone in their struggles.

Harvard Health Publishing: Anxiety in college, What we know and how to cope

Boston University: Anxiety and Depression in College Students

North Central College: How to Reduce Anxiety in College Students

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