Students Face Their Anxiety Head-On

As mental health has become widely accepted and more a part of the global conversation, we talked to students about how they are able to manage their anxiety here at Penn State.

Penn State is a huge school, which brings a ton of academic competition, encouragement to be involved and the want for an exciting social life. With all the pressure to keep up and seeing others succeed, all of the pressure and anxiety can creep up on anyone at anytime. Many students deal with anxiety and these are some of their stories.

“Anxiety started off slowly with me, I never really paid that much attention to it until it had creeped into my social life. Little things like asking someone to go to the grocery or going to my sororities chapter can give nervous feelings,” says Grace Johnson, a sophomore majoring in communication science and disorder.

“Often times you tend to feel like a burden or that no one likes you or that you have no control over situations. That aspect of anxiety has become very invasive in my day to day life,” Johnson says. “While working on it takes time, I am slowly becoming better at managing my anxiety by going places in good company. Anxiety can be hard to control and sometimes I find myself letting my emotions get blown out of proportion. It’s more than just calming down.”

“I think anxiety comes and goes so it depends on the day. If i have a lot going on or I’m stressed or really upset about something my anxiety will skyrocket– other times I’ll feel completelyl fine. It’s hard to predict. But I think there are things everyone can do when you have bad days, you just have to figure out what works for you,” says Emily Fitzgerald, a junior majoring in HHD.

It is easy for college students to feel anxious trying to balance school work, friends and family, while trying to figure out the rest of their lives. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems on campus. Here is how some of our students here manage their anxiety:

“Honestly it has been difficult to cope with my anxiety this past year. Anxiety is relatively new to my day to day life. I try and take deep breaths or watch tv to distract myself. Little mental/ self care breaks tend to make all the difference when feeling extra anxious,” says Johnson, “I often rely on my close friends for quick reminder that everything will be okay to stay calm and know I’m not a lone. Having a good support system can make all the difference. Often with anxiety you will feel alone, annoying or just very overwhelmed by the littlest things. To me it is important to remember that worse case scenario rarely happens, and if it does then I have my friends and family to fall back on.”

“Different things work for different people and the more you practice the better you’ll get at managing,” says Fitzgerald. “For example i go to meditation once and week which helps me get out of my head and i stay really organized and on top of my google calendar so i can accurately manage my time. The more organized I am the less anxious I feel.”

While anxiety may seem scary and at times even a handicap, both Johnson and Fitzgerald agree understand that anxiety has given them a better understanding on life.

“Anxiety has taught me that I am stronger than I know. It also has shown me how important it is to take care of your mental health before anything else. I have learned that I am strong enough to overcome those little panic attacks and that nothing is too bad to move past,” says Johnson.

“I think anxiety has shown me that you never know what people are going through. Anxiety can be impossible sometimes but it’s ‘invisible’ so if you dont show it no one would know what you’re dealing with. It’s taught me to always give people the benefit of the doubt because you don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors,” says Fitzgerald.

Even people who do not experience anxiety still get anxious. At some point in life, everyone will have the insecure feeling of not being good enough, nervous and anxious.

“Mental Health is one of the most important parts of who you are. Anxiety doesn’t make you different or weird, it is just a part of who you are not what you are. Take time to accept and learn to love who you are and know that you can still accomplish all you want to do,” says Johnson

“Learning how to manage anxiety is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. You just have to find what works for you and go with it, because it can be different for everyone,” says Fitzgerald.


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