I hope this post will help anyone who stumbles upon it 🙂
It’s been a while since I have been diagnosed with GAD and panic disorder,as a side effect of a physical illness.
When I finished high school and entered university (or college,as we call it in my country) I was under a lot of stress. Moving out of my family home (even if it was just for 5 days of the week,as my uni is not that far away,so I can go home on the weekends), not knowing anyone in a new city and the mountain of uni work left me very confused. On the top of that, my illness was acting out and I felt estranged from my uni colleagues.
The first time I had experienced a panic attack,I thought it was just exam stress finally getting to me. Even though the attacks started to happen more and more often,I have always attributed them to exam period,until I’ve realised that I was subconsciously avoiding certain situations and places. I felt more and more afraid of being alone. Then,I decided to get some help. The terms ” general anxiety disorder” and “panic disorder” appeared on my medical chart. I was offered counseling and medications. The counseling was fine, but nothing really changed. But the medications left me really sleepy and made it impossible for me to concentrate on uni work. I realised it was up to me to figure this whole mess out. So,I am sharing here what I’ve learned from my experience in hope that someone out there will find this helpful 🙂
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY DISORDER IN UNI:
This is a real no-brainer, but it needs to be said. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms,get yourself checked with your doctor. Also, the medications did not work for me,but it doesn’t mean that they will not help you. So, first things first: go to a doctor.
1. Plenty of sleep
As one of the symptoms of GAD is insomnia and other sleep disorders,this one could be a bit more difficult (I know it was for me). Make going to sleep a ritual; never eat/watch/study in your bed. Before bedtime, open your windows and let fresh air in. An hour or two before going to sleep, eat some light and healthy dinner,light a nice relaxing candle (lavender for example), take a hot shower/bath and do something that relaxes you (avoid electric devices such as TV,laptop,phone,tablets…).
2. Plan ahead
Get a planner,a notebook or whatever works best for you and plan your week. Now,it is important that it is a quite “loose” plan; start with some of the things that you really have to do (for example: “finish chapter 15 by friday “). Then,every evening before going to sleep make a schedule for the next day. Write down all of your classes,assignments and make a detailed study plan. That will calm you down,because you know what you will do when you wake up,so there are no surprises.
Healthy body= healthy mind. Exercise is a really important thing because you will be able to shake away the stress and worry , get your body tired (you will fall asleep better) and forget about uni for a while. I prefer running,but you do whatever makes you feel best ; yoga,boxing, cycling… There are many options.
4.Start revising early
I know this is an advice that works for every student,but it especially important for someone suffering anxiety and panic disorder. If you would generally need 3 weeks to revise for your exam, take 4 and a half just so you avoid the pre-exam stress and suffer from a panic attack on the day of your exam (happened to me,loads of times).
A panic attack can happen even though you have been following all of the tips above. If it happens,it is important to have a back up plan. If you can’t meditate on your own and you feel difficult to concentrate, get a meditation app. There’s lots of choice in relaxation apps so find one that suits you the best.
This is all from me for now, I hope you will find this useful 🙂
*photo credit : Toby Allen