Friday 11 November 2022

3 tips to help you be at ease with your anxiety

Kammy talks about her personal experience of anxiety and shares her 3 top tips for working through it.

- Kammy Lam

We all experience anxiety from time to time; the feeling of worry, fear and dread, typically in response to stress. With anxiety, you can start to sweat, feel restless, become tense, and you can notice a rapid heartbeat. Anxiety-inducing situations could include facing challenges with work, sitting exams, or before making big decisions. University can be a particularly high-pressure environment therefore many students will struggle with anxiety. Although we can’t always eliminate the source of our anxiety, we can try to deal with it effectively and make our life easier. So, as someone who has experienced anxiety whilst studying, here are 3 of my tips to help overcome it:

Tip 1: Understand what’s making you anxious

I find it's important to first try and work out if the anxiety you're experiencing has a source (e.g. academic performance, work worries, your love life, family issues.) This is because if you can understand where your anxiety stems from, you can start to think of relevant and appropriate solutions to help you to feel better. I like to take time to self-reflect or list my thoughts and worries. However, if I don't quite know what is making me anxious, it really helps to talk through my feelings with my friends to see their perspectives. It could also be helpful to keep a journal on your emotions to see if you can find a trigger point for your anxiety. For some people, if their anxiety is too overwhelming, it might be important to seek professional help when first starting to work through their issues.

Tip 2: Set goals to help ease your anxiety

Now you have an idea of what makes you anxious, you can start to think about setting some realistic goals to help ease the negative feelings. I find goal-setting to be particularly helpful because it helps to regain a sense of control when all your worries can leave you feeling helpless, overwhelmed and stuck. When I feel anxious about my studies, I like to use “SMART” goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. By specifying these factors in relation to your goal, you can make sure that your goals can be completed, and your anxiety surrounding the task will be reduced.

Sometimes, however, you'll be anxious over things you can't change at all (e.g. how someone feels about you) so in these scenarios, it is helpful to set goals that focus on things you can do to feel better e.g. go outside each day, meditate for 10 mins each morning, take regular breaks or watch a movie with a friend. You might then feel more distracted, more motivated, more hopeful and less anxious.

Tip 3: Challenge yourself

Finally, it’s important to remember that a little bit of anxiety isn’t always a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact your daily life. It’s good to do things that scare you, to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Dr Viktor Frankl, a renowned neuroscientist and author of Man's Search for Meaning, said: "What people really need is not a state of stresslessness, but a struggle for something worth striving for. We should not seek to eliminate stress at all costs, but to answer those underlying callings." So, take the initiative to not only do things you like, but things you find difficult. It’s a powerful thing to focus your mind on new things and develop yourself, even if it initially makes you feel anxious.

We all experience anxiety occasionally - it's human! Growing up, there were moments I felt bound by anxiety. Slowly, I realised that the best way to heal myself was by learning to do what I can but to let go and move on from what I can’t. Anxiety in my life may come and go, and it may take me a long time to coexist peacefully with it - the process is not easy but it’s what makes life interesting! When negative emotions come to visit again, I will know how to understand my feelings, share them with others, make meaningful changes and continue to move forward. I really hope these tips help. And remember, you are not alone!

Find out more about anxiety and how to support someone.

Hi readers! I am Kammy, a psychology student studying at the University of Sheffield from Hong Kong. On my journey through life, I was once severely defeated and constrained by negative emotions. I gradually came to the conclusion that the best way for me to recover is to learn how to let go and move on. I hope that this blog will be of assistance to you as you experience a low point!

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