Ways to reduce anxiety

Cassidy Gladieux Reporter

In the United States, around 31% of all adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. But what is anxiety really? The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worries, thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” 

Oftentimes, we use the term ‘anxiety’ interchangeably with ‘stress’. However, the two are very different and it’s important to be able to recognize the difference between anxiety and stress before you can begin taking steps towards resolution.

“Stress is a physical, mental or emotional response to a situation or change,” said Cassie Shokles, a graduate research assistant in the College of Public Policy & Health. “Anxiety is that result of stress, so if you don’t have stress, you’re probably not going to have anxiety.”

There are multiple factors that can contribute to and amplify someone’s anxiety. Social injustices, the pandemic and upcoming finals are just a few factors that can heighten ever-growing stress and anxiety. Being dismissive or avoiding crippling anxiety can have long-lasting negative effects on health.

“A couple things are going to happen,” said Dr. Angela Neal, a professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. “They are going to burn out or they are going to lash out. Neither is productive, and we want people to be their best selves.”

If you do find yourself burning or lashing out, however, you aren’t alone.

“Allowing yourself grace and forgiveness for feeling that way is perfectly normal,” said Melissa Celko from Kent State of Wellness. “I mean, nobody’s lived through this kind of situation. We’re all navigating in different ways.”

Being able to acknowledge and recognize your anxiety is the first step in being able to manage it. 

“It’s hard to cope with something if we don’t acknowledge it,” said Sholkes. “If we ignore it, then that anxiety … it’s going to build up and become almost unbearable.”

In addition to resources on campus like the Counseling Center, the University Health Center and the Student Multicultural Center, students can take preventative measures on their own to manage increasing anxiety. 

“I encourage students to take advantage of that because you’re going to learn ways to protect your body and your mind and your spirit,” said Dr. Neal.

Some ways you can practice this are:

·      Get a good night’s sleep

·      Get outside

·      Do some kind of physical activity

·      Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water

·      Connect with family and friends

·      Ask for help when you need it

If you struggle to recognize when you have anxiety, common signs include:

·      Feeling nervous, restless or tense

·      Increased heart rate

·      Trouble concentrating 

·      Having increased sense of danger or panic

·      Feeling weak or tired

No matter what you are feeling anxious or stressed about, it is important to take care of yourself and remember to seek help when you need it.

Cassidy Gladieux covers mental health. Contact her at [email protected]