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Arnab Dey, 4 days ago
If you’re starting college this autumn, then you’re probably dealing with a mix of excitement and anxiety over how your first year is going to go. Whether you’re getting a BA at a small liberal arts college like Sarah Lawrence in NY State, or a pre-med science degree at a huge university like Dalhousie in Halifax, there are particular challenges and trials that go along with such a huge transition. Whether you’re living at your parents’, campus residence, or a rental apartment, the shift to campus culture can be incredibly fun, but also overwhelming.
Recent studies surveying American university students revealed that 40% of students feel so depressed that it is difficult to function, and a staggering 61% said that they experience overwhelming anxiety on a regular basis. This, to say the least, is extremely troubling. These numbers are unacceptable; in this post, we’re going to outline a few obvious ways to prevent and reduce depression and anxiety on campus and make the case that embracing activism and joining your peers to fight for a common cause is perhaps the most sure-fire way to reduce anxiety.
Substance abuse in the form of alcohol and bong hits can certainly cloud the first months of college and contribute to a sense of detachment, but a more insidious addiction is one you carry around with you constantly: your phone. Making an effort to put your phone on silent or airplane mode and really absorb your lectures is just smart, it also encourages meaningful interactions with your classmates. Face to face conversations help you feel connected and understood and can help open you up to new ideas. Keeping your head down and tapping away on your phone is a recipe for isolation, even if it seems like you’re connecting with the outside world.
Especially if your parents are footing the bill, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overloading yourself with work. The great Dorothy Sayers once compared a student trying to process a full course load to a boa constrictor trying to swallow an elephant – quite an image! Like a snake, there’s only so much your brain can digest at one time. Taking fewer courses allows you to take everything in properly, and may leave time for a job where you can gain valuable life experience and get out of your own head for a bit – not to mention putting a few bucks in your pocket.
Since the key to overcoming anxiety is often simply connecting to other people and engaged with something you feel is meaningful, campus activism can be a tonic for mental health. There are many complex problems facing our society today and the world at large, find one that’s meaningful to you and organize fundraisers, demonstrations and meetups to discuss solutions. Tackling complicated problems don’t have to be depressing; you can bond with peers over beers and by ordering custom hoodies in Canada that reflect your passion, wearing your heart – quite literally – on your sleeve. Whatever you’re studying, college is a great time to develop your values and figure out what kind of person you are and how you want to make a difference.
So, don’t fall into the anxiety trap, it seems as though it is far too easy these days for college students to feel disillusioned and disconnected. Real, face to face interaction is key; when you sit down to study it will be that much easier.
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