Heart pounding, consistent and intrusive loud beating in your head, body trembling, mind racing, can’t eat, nausea,etc. If any one or a combination of these symptoms apply to you, you may be dealing with the effects of anxiety and elevated stress.
Mental health is one of the most critically important aspects of being a millennial in today’s world. There are so many different forms of issues that arise in regards to mental health, but I am choosing to highlight the issues revolving around anxiety and stress. Whether you are eighteen years old and preparing to enter college or the real world or you are a twenty-something year old young adult, mental health is about handling situations and stress of life as you encounter it. I am a twenty-two year old and second semester senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Over the course of my four years in (excuse my bias) the absolute greatest university and place on earth, I was able to help one of my very best friends through several episodes of severe anxiety. Without going into too much detail, they struggled with anxiety and it lead to debilitating stress on their body and spirit. I am hoping to offer you some advice from these experiences with them that will lead you to see the light at the end of your dark tunnel.
For college students, stress is a common factor for just about everyone. Stress over grades, stress about their appearances, stress about their personal lives, stresses of excitement, etc. Regardless of which type of stress is causing the suffering, it has the potential to be a very scary and immobilizing feeling. Don’t get me wrong, stress can be beneficial depending on which type it is. Good stress (I know it sounds funny) is the stress that the body encounters when there is an exciting factor introduced into your life. Bad stress is all the negative situations that cause someone to react to the stimulator with detrimental reactions, such as those referenced in the opening paragraph. When you encounter stress, it may be helpful to consider the following and put those you find the most beneficial into use:
1. Support: Reach out to your friends and family. No one is alone and most of the time, if you approach another student with information about your personal struggle, they will have had a similar experience and can give you advice on how they handled it.
2. Meditation: Find a meditation or quiet time that you can practice when you begin to feel overwhelmed or at the brink of an anxiety attack. This can be anything from a yoga practice, breathing exercise, or if you are religious, a prayer or recitation of a bible verse. As a devout Christian, when my friend was going through their rough patch, I encouraged them to memorize one particular verse that I felt encapsulated the way to overcome anything. This verse was: “I sought the Lord and He heard me. He delivers me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
3. Professional Help: Seeking professional help is not something that makes you different from others or designates you as “crazy”. I have had so many of my friends tell me that they have sought advice from a counselor and the overwhelmingly positive impact that it had on their lives. If you are attending a university, most of the time a simple Google search will turn up tons of free resources on campus that are available to all students. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are no doubt many ways in which someone can overcome stress that isn’t covered in this short entry, but these are the ones that stand out to me as those that were most helpful for my friends who have dealt with these situations. I realize I am no expert on the subject of mental health but my hope is that, if you are reading this in search of help, you can find what you were looking for in my three points.
Elizabeth Morrow Brewer
UNC Class of 2017, Political Science, B.A.
Elon University School of Law, Class of 2019