The current pandemic and the global lockdown has taken a toll on students’ mental health. Confined at home and forced out of the normal classroom setting, students worldwide had to quickly adjust to the new reality, but this adjustment hasn’t gone smoothly for everyone.
The article from The Guardian, referencing the data from Nightlines, a non-governmental organization that seeks to help students with mental health struggles, reports that from March till April 2020, nearly half of all calls (48%) they received was from students who wanted to discuss mental health issues. And 24% out of that number wanted to talk about anxiety.
The topic of mental health in students has been on everyone’s lips over the past few years, but in 2020 it has proven to be as important as ever. So, today, we will talk about a few tips on how students can alleviate stress and anxiety caused by a college routine and amplified by the global pandemic.
1. Put More Effort into Diet and Exercise
Your mind can go to a really dark place when you’re stressed or feeling anxious. That’s why it is important to have something that won’t let you drown in that swamp and will help you pull yourself out. Following a healthy diet and doing regular exercises can have that effect.
Back in 2014, a group of scientists studied the effects of self-care on patients with depression and chronic illnesses. The participants varied in age and gender, but all of them suffered from depression and certain chronic diseases for some time.
The researchers asked the participants to practice self-care, namely, to exercise and follow a healthy diet for a certain period of time. Amazingly, all of the participants reported a boost in confidence after making these self-care practices a part of their daily lives.
Why does self-care work so well?
It’s simple – your mind switches to something else. And, since you switch the focus to the well-being of your body, it helps develop a healthy image of yourself and helps you get rid of the negative self-perception.
So, tip number one – every time you feel anxious or stressed, take care of yourself. After all, a sound mind can only exist together with a sound body.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Of course, exercising is not for everyone, and it’s normal. But in this case, you need to look for some other mechanisms to cope with anxiety and stress. And practicing mindfulness can be an effective solution here.
Mindfulness-based therapy can be helpful even in the most severe cases of mental health disorders. A study involving patients who experienced stress and anxiety with a wide range of severity has shown that practicing mindfulness can alleviate these symptoms, even when they are associated with issues other than mental health disorders.
How can you practice mindfulness to ease stress and anxiety?
If you feel that you’ve been getting increasingly irritated, you can try one of these mindfulness exercises:
It’s not necessary to sit down in the lotus pose and try to shoo your thoughts away. This approach doesn’t work for everybody, and meditation is not about that. Mindful meditation is about focusing on the moment, trying to identify your emotions and understand their source.
For example, if you feel stressed over essay writing, it may happen because you don’t have enough information, or your environment distracts you. Try to find these triggers, recognize them, and think, what you can do to stop them from affecting you.
This can be a different form of mindful meditation, as you grab a piece of paper and a pen and start pouring your thoughts on it.
Journaling is a great way to help you put your thoughts in order and get rid of obsessions and anxious thoughts. Right at the moment when you feel the most stressed, stop everything you’re doing, find a quiet corner, and sort your head out.
3) Mindful walk
It’s always a great idea to combine a little bit of an exercise on fresh air and a meditative practice.
A mindful walk is all about taking a stroll, during which you should notice every single detail around you and describe it to yourself. During this walk, it is important to put obsessive thoughts like “How am I going to write my paper for tomorrow?” aside and take a look around. Breathe slowly as you observe the color of the sky, the textures of grass, and the emotions on people’s faces.
During a mindful walk, don’t let your thoughts invade your mind and try to push them out by substituting them with something unrelated to the situation that is causing you stress and anxiety.
3. Speak with a Professional Anonymously
Even though it is recommended not to keep your emotions inside when feeling stressed or anxious, it can sometimes be hard to share your worries, even with your family, because of the fear of disapproval.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can always get professional support anonymously. Various mental health organizations provide live chat and anonymous call options to help students cope with stressful situations, understand and let them go.
At NoPanic, we offer students such support, providing recovery services and anxiety aid. And, if you decide to share your problems with a real person, our members can join closed Facebook groups, where you can talk to your peers and get the support you need and deserve.
4. Go for a Session with a Therapy Dog
Pet therapy has always been a popular strategy in helping patients with mental health issues, but recently it has started to become more and more popular during therapy sessions to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Multiple research confirms the effectiveness of dog therapy for relieving stress. Angela Baker, a writer and researcher at SupremeDissertations specializing in psychology, shares that a study involving sophomore students, who were asked to undergo one therapy session involving a dog weekly, has shown a significant drop in anxiety levels already after three sessions.
Why does pet therapy help?
You might have noticed that every time you spend time with a pet, your mood instantly improves, and you become more energized and active.
Animals work as a distraction. As you interact with an animal, no matter what type, you switch your focus from your problems to taking care of this animal and its needs.
So, ask if your college campus provides such therapy sessions for students. If not, search for a local organization that provides such services for people with mental health struggles.
Over to You
Stress and anxiety are present in the life of every student, but with the onset of the pandemic, their symptoms might seem almost unbearable.
That’s why it is so important to have coping mechanisms that would help distract you from a stressful situation or an anxious thought and put you in a positive mindset.
If you are going through a stressful period right now, we encourage you to try one of our tips. Whether it’s self-care, mindful meditation, talking to a professional, or interacting with a therapy dog – find something that would calm your mind and make you feel happy again because you absolutely deserve it.
Author bio: Nicole Garrison is a content contributor and editor. She started her career as a writer for the top writing service, and now she mostly creates guest posts and writes articles for her own blog.
How can No Panic help?
No Panic specialises in self-help recovery and our services aim to providing people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery.