Back To School Anxiety
Hi friend! My name is Samara + I am a CLC for Team CHAARG. My hope for you is that my blog post helps you feel a little less alone + more empowered to conquer the anxious thoughts swirling around in your mind as you head back to school. Before we get started I need you to make me one promise. I need you to say to yourself “I can do hard things,” ok? Believing in yourself is half the battle of tackling anxiety. I am in your corner + I know how you feel, so let’s walk on this journey together.
LET YOUR FEARS BE HEARD
No matter how confident I am, there is always uncertainty that comes with entering a season of change in my life. As college students, we are constantly juggling changes happening in our lives + as a result I constantly have to remind myself that feeling fear in those moments is part of being human. In order to honor my emotions I need to give them the space to be expressed.
Fear is the “food” anxiety uses to feed our minds with false truths about ourselves or the uncertainties of what lies ahead. Here’s a little secret to keep in mind: fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR). When we experience anxiety about changes happening in our lives, there is usually some false evidence that we are giving more credit to than we should. So, let your fears be heard + recognize that part of you is scared of the uncertainties that lie ahead. I recommend journaling out your thoughts or having someone you trust simply hold space for you so that you can share your worries out loud. Just remember that you are so much stronger than the fearful narratives your anxiety is trying to convince you to believe.
BE IN THE NOW
My grandmother always has “be in the now” written on a sticky note on her kitchen counter. I never understood the context of this simple phrase until I learned that we only have the power to control the present moment, not the future nor the past. I always seem to forget this simple phrase as I try to find my footing + adjust to my new schedule ++ environment back on campus.
Here’s the truth though: you can’t be everywhere, do everything, or worry about every detail all at once. As Desmond Tutu once said “you can’t eat an elephant in one bite. There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Being present means understanding what is in your circle of control at the exact day + moment ++ time an anxious thought interrupts you. I recommend using the “welcome to the party” method to stay present in the moment. Here is how it works: when an anxious thought rushes into your mind about going back to school, welcome it to the party. Don’t try to ignore it because it will just keep knocking. By welcoming the thought, you have recognized that anxious thought + you can determine if that thought is something you have control over in the present moment or not. By approaching your anxious thoughts in this way, you can decide which bites of the elephant need to be eaten + which bites can be saved for another day.
SELF-CARE ISN’T SELFISH
I don’t know if you resonate with this, but it is so easy for me to stop taking care of myself when I am feeling anxious. In reality though, these are the exact moments that I desperately need to be taking care of myself more intentionally.
Anxiety has the power to put a blind fold us from the basic forms of self-care, because we are too busy worrying about the “what-ifs” that rule our lives. To combat this, it is important to be intentional about working self-care into your daily schedule. I recommend breaking down your self-care practices into these 5 categories: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, + personal. Physical self-care is all about your physical well-being, such as staying active + eating foods that fuel your body ++ getting proper amounts of sleep each night. Emotional self-care, such as meditation + journaling ++ talking to a mental health counselor or trusted friend are outlets for you to express + recognize your feelings. Social self-care refers to nurturing the relationships in your life + having a support network of people you can trust. Spiritual self-care involves nurturing the beliefs + values that help guide your life. Lastly, personal self-care refers to honoring our truest selves by exploring our personal identity + doing the things that you joy. By prioritizing self-care when you’re anxiously experiencing a period of change, you are able to take care of yourself holistically. I always have to remind myself that self-care isn’t selfish. It is such a powerful life skill to know how to show yourself the love you deserve.
SHOW YOURSELF SOME GRACE
Facing moments in life that make us anxious can be difficult to overcome, but I’m going to remind you again that YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS! Tackling your anxiety as you step onto campus may be difficult, so I need you to show yourself some grace along the way. I often forget to show myself grace when I am battling with my anxious thoughts, so this is a reminder for both of us that simply showing up for yourself is enough.
I hope you know that you are not alone + that you are comforted to know that there is someone in your corner who understands how you feel. You are so much stronger than the anxious thoughts that try to hold you back. I hope you walk onto campus this semester with your head held high. I am cheering you on as you tackle this mountain ahead. You can do anything you set your mind to + you are so much stronger than your anxious thoughts.