You have been studying all week to get ready for a huge test in your political science class. This class has just two tests during the semester and no other papers or assignments. One bad grade could make it almost impossible to do well for the semester. As you are walking to class, you start to feel your stomach crawl into your throat. You don’t know why, since you are prepared for this test. Reluctantly, you walk into the classroom and then, you are overwhelmed with a sense of nervousness. It almost becomes hard to breathe. You are having a panic attack.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 30 percent of college students experience anxiety that impacts their ability to perform in classes. It makes sense. College is the first time that most students have been away from home and the pressure to perform is high. Social anxiety in college, which occurs often, can also be debilitating. It is important to know the warning signs that indicate a serious problem. If you have difficulty sleeping, lose your appetite or can’t get out of bed, it is important to get help right away. There are things that you can do to manage anxiety. Read on to learn more.

1. Recognize Anxiety Triggers

Going to college with an anxiety disorder doesn't have to keep you from maximizing your college experience. Recognizing the onset of anxiety is the key to managing stressors that can lead to an all-out panic attack. You can even keep a journal or short list that will help you identify specific situations that lead to high anxiety. For example, if homework, tests or crowded social events are overwhelming, you can develop specific strategies to lessen your anxiety. Determining a potential pattern of impact is key to minimizing the emotional impact of anxiety.

2. Use Immediate Remedies for Anxiety Attacks

Only you know what will help you make it through extreme periods of anxiety. Try removing yourself from the situation and breathing deeply. If you have homework anxiety in college, take a break. Often, a distraction will help you move away from the extreme stress that you are experiencing. If you are in the middle of a test, you may not be able to leave the room. Bring a bottle of water to drink or close your eyes and take a short break from the test to help center your thoughts and feelings.

3. Surround Yourself with a Support Network

It is common to feel lonely at college, but you aren’t alone. Going to college with an anxiety disorder doesn't mean that you can't have a social circle. Make new friends by reaching out to people on your floor, your roommate and classmates. Build a relationship with your Resident Assistant, faculty members and a school therapist to find support. It is important to have a support network to lean on when things feel overwhelming.

4. Deal with Your Social Anxiety in College

If you have social anxiety in college, avoid large crowds or big parties. Use a proactive approach to wellness and stress management. Get involved on campus with smaller, less intimidating groups to provide balance to the intensity of studying and the pressure of academic performance. Meet with friends one on one for coffee or lunch.

5. Make Healthy Food Choices

It is easy to succumb to a diet of pop and pizza, but a healthy diet will help your body have the right fuel to combat anxiety and hopelessness. Avoid caffeine. Coffee may seem like the right tool to help you through an all-night study session, but it is a stimulant that can make you feel jittery and on edge. If you find that you are using something to help you get to sleep and wake up in the morning, it is time to make a change. Also, be sure to exercise each day to increase your energy and invigorate your mind and body.

6. Get Enough Sleep, but Not Too Much

Don’t underestimate the need to sleep. If you are sleep deprived, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to manage the stress associated with college life. At the same time, if you find that you are sleeping most of your day away, it is a sign of a more serious condition. Create a regular sleep schedule and stick to it, as much as possible. Make sure you get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you are going to college with an anxiety disorder, your health and wellness must be a focus.

7. Seek Campus Resources

One of the most important things that you can do to deal with extreme anxiety is to talk to a professional. Visit your campus health or counseling center and talk to a professional counselor about your feelings. A therapist is the best person to help you identify the cause of your anxiety and suggest effective ways to deal with it.

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About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.