Student Anxiety Is On the Rise: Ways to Self-Soothe

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Anxiety has overtaken depression as the primary mental health issue for college students, according to a study done at Penn State University.

The rise in college anxiety may be owed to students facing school and relationship pressures without parental support. Parents have become increasingly involved in every aspect of their children’s lives, and this can foster dependency.

“A lot are coming to school who don’t have the resilience of previous generations,” said Dan Jones, Ph.D., director of counseling and psychological services, Appalachian State University, N.C. “A primary symptom is worrying, and they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves.”

Five Easy Ways To Self-Soothe

If you are in college or starting a new job, find yourself overwhelmed with worry, and have difficulty soothing yourself you might need professional help to manage the anxiety, develop confidence, and learn more effective problem-solving skills.

Meanwhile, engage in activities that are pleasurable, relieve stress, and increase energy. Here are five easy ways to soothe yourself.

  1. Go Outside. Students and employees usually spend hours sitting in stale air-conditioned, drab rooms with florescent lighting. Spend as much time as you can in a natural setting, and without overexposing your skin get plenty of sunshine. Full spectrum sunlight provides us with vitamin D, and keeps the body’s daily rhythms in sync for sound sleep at night.
  2. Get Moving. One of the most soothing and energy boosting things we can do is move our body. Bend, reach, walk, jump, run, twist, or pedal - any movement is better than sitting and rehashing worries. Physical activity - whether swimming laps, vacuuming, or Tai chi - relieves tension and balances the mind-body system.
  3. Inhale. People who worry tend to breathe in a shallow manner—and shallow breathing increases tension. When feeling anxious or overwhelmed, take several luxurious deep breaths, filling your lungs to full capacity.
  4. Use the Power of Sound. Pop in some earbuds and listen to music that relaxes or uplifts you (this may not be the type of music you would go to a concert to hear, or what is typically blasting at a campus party). You can also use the vibration of your own voice to calm yourself by humming a tune, or chanting sounds such as “UU-AH-EE-MM.”
  5. Enjoy A Self Mini-Massage. Massaging our own skin, even for a short time, stimulates circulation, and releases beneficial chemicals that counteract the effects of stress. Between classes, or on a work break, vigorously rub your scalp, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, or feet.

If you are troubled by anxiety you are not alone and there is compassionate help available. Visit your school’s counseling center, check into your workplace benefits, or your community’s mental health resources.

Sources: Psychiatry Advisor; Chopra
Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360

 
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