Sitting on the couch with friends, laughing and sharing stories of the day; life couldn’t be much better. Time with friends is cherished and almost therapeutic. I smile and feel at peace, avoiding the mile long ‘to-do’ list waiting for me.
With one word, I remember something on the list. This starts me in a downward spiral, remembering how much I have to do. My mind starts racing, each breath becomes short and that once peaceful feeling is replaced with panic. With so much to do and so little time, I begin to feel hopeless and incapable. I can’t do it all.
This is anxiety.
According to the American Psychological Society, 41.6% of college students are concerned with anxiety. In fact, anxiety is their top concern, over depression and relationship issues.
In my case, anxiety begins when I focus too heavily on the never-ending list of things I need to do. That seemingly eternal list becomes overwhelming.
Anxiety comes as a result of different things and effects everyone in various ways. Likewise, the way to cope with it can be different for everyone.
In those moments when it all seems to be crashing down, one of the things that calms my worries and brings peace back to my mind is a hug. Being wrapped in the arms of someone I care for creates a feeling of safety and calm.
A few other items help me come back down to earth and organize: my journal and planner. Recording my thoughts — the good, the bad and the in-between — allows me to clear my head. Keeping a physical list of what I need to accomplish helps me relax, knowing I won’t forget something.
More than anything, the thing that helps me most is taking a step back and prioritizing. In a weird way, even taking a deep breath and realizing that I can’t do it all provides peace.
The demands of life, and more specifically life in college, often feel too heavy to carry. We put so much pressure on ourselves, from school to work to dating and making friends. Sometimes, it is necessary to pause, prioritize what needs to be done and then to be okay with not doing everything.
Life is going to work out as we do our best, but just remember we can’t give anything more than our best. Even though people say it often, it isn’t possible to give 110%, we only have 100% to give.
Sometimes, you can’t do it all. Just take a breath, take one step forward and keep going.