Give yourself a break from stressful activitiesBy Samantha Rudelich | 08/29/2016 9:16pm
It usually starts with my heart. The beats speed up, getting quicker and quicker. I worry my heart will thrash against my chest hard enough to jump out of my body. Then, the hyperventilation begins. My panic attack goes full throttle. My anxiety and fears finally catch up to me. My arms shake up and down in an attempt to get air to my lungs. I pull at my collar to allow my neck to breathe. This only stresses me out more. All I want is to breathe easy again. All I want is my body to stop. All I want is to conquer my anxiety.
Though I have struggled with my anxiety and panic attacks most of my life, it is something I rarely talk about seriously. Born out of an abundance of fears that range in type and intensity, my anxiety affects a variety of things in my life, including my sleep and relationships. However, my fears are not uncommon. I see my peers and I know that we are all experiencing some degree of stress and anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness that affects 40 million adults. 75 percent of those adults will have their first episode by age 22. These numbers reveal that this is a significant problem on college campuses.
Everyone employs their own methods of coping with stress and anxiety. If I can feel the stress building up and sense an attack coming, I have an arsenal of methods I use to prevent my anxiety from escalating. I have tried everything from listening to music to walking outside to drinking my favorite kind of tea. Someone recently offered another method for reducing anxiety that I have added to my best practices list. Instead of ignoring my fears or brushing off the stress, I recognize whenever a fear appears and invite that fear in. By accepting the fear, I am able to confront that fear head-on and explore why I am afraid of something. When I think through my fear, I acknowledge it and move on to become productive.
I rarely experienced my normal anxiety this summer, but school just started and I can feel myself slipping from the stress already. I know that we all feel this pressure to do everything and be everywhere at the same time, but this is a reminder to take a breath and give yourself a break. Without a break, the stress will only build up to the point where it becomes paralyzing. Take an hour each day and read that book that you have been dying to pick-up but have not had the time. Try that GroupX class at the recreation center that you never seem to make it to. Go to the animal shelter and rent a puppy for the afternoon. Find something relaxing to do a couple of times a week and honestly commit to relaxation. It is incredibly difficult to turn your brain off and recharge but the benefits are incalculable.
Samantha Rudelich is a senior majoring in business management. Her column runs biweekly.