School has officially started, reading assignments are adding up, homework multiplies daily, papers are due, tests start coming up, practices begin to take a toll, work hours get longer and bills get larger. Being a full-time college student means having multiple commitments as well as jobs to perform. The experience can be stressful and nerve-racking.
College students have to juggle classes, work, clubs, physical activities, friends, family, and still be able to schedule time for themselves on a daily basis. Many college students are also heavily immersed in the world of smartphones and social media, which can lead to information overload.
While social media platforms like Facebook can be a fantastic way to maintain long distance relationships and work in groups, they are also a big stresser. In fact, social media can many times be the catalyst of anxious feelings or cause a panic attack without even acknowledging it.
“Social media definitely is a way for people to get lost in doubt, worry and not even realize that is what’s aiding the problem,” said RMC sophomore Megan Logan.
According to TIME, individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 look at their phones on average 74 times per day. Americans in the 25-34 age group look at their devices 50 times per day and adults between 35 and 44 check 35 times each day.
Frequently, millennials are so connected to social media platforms that they check their profiles several times daily. Social media can negatively contribute to anxiety because individuals are constantly searching for acceptance online. Individuals who don’t have many online friends suffer stress; however, the population of individuals who have a large number of online friends are more heavily impacted. A study of Facebook usage at Regis University in Colorado found that the larger the Facebook network, the greater the stress felt by the user.
Belmont University senior, Claire Stepanek has her own personal perspective about anxiety. “Social media plays a part in young adult’s anxiety. Not only are you putting yourself out there a lot of the times with things like Instagram and Snapchat, but you also are keeping tabs on other people,” Stepanek said.
Many times stress can get the best of us. Anxiety about deadlines, grades, work expectations, social media, and the current political climate can all contribute to a feeling of powerlessness and fear. People experience anxiety due to a variety of reasons, and it comes with distinct levels of severity. However, new students are more prone to suffer anxiety because they are faced with many new expectations and stresses at the same time. Also, college students are often away from home and tend to lack financial freedom.
Even though anxiety is rampant in college campuses across the nation, it is a taboo topic because of all the implications surrounding an individual’s social interactions and mental health. Students are often afraid to talk about their experience with anxiety for fear of judgement. “Sometimes you should just focus on yourself for your own health. I know I look for affirmation when I’m anxious or depressed and social media isn’t the healthiest way to get that,” Stepanek said.
Individuals are afraid of being called weak, timid, or mentally ill. However, this shouldn’t be the case because so many people have experienced anxiety and conquered it. There is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, solutions do exist. The first step to being able to support and help anyone with anxiety is understanding that it exists. Anxiety is not imaginary, and it isn’t easy to deal with. The feelings of anxiety are not only in our head, but they can be felt physically.
“Sometimes if anxiety is just creeping in it’s not physical yet, but my brain is totally aware of everything. Like constant mind twirling around different possible situations or past experiences. If it gets worse, personally I get horrible pains in my legs and sometimes they shake with tension. If I have a full panic attack it feels like drowning. You’re constantly gasping, but can’t get the right amount of air in.” said Stepanek.
Anxiety can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be. When we feel anxious about situations that scare us, our body believes we are in danger and experiences a fight-or-flight response. The term “fight-or-flight” was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon and it consists of a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived dangerous event, attack, or threat to survival. Regardless of gender or age, anxiety can be painful to deal with.
Anxiety doesn’t have to be permanent. Thousands of people have conquered their own anxiety and panic attacks. How? Everyone deals with stress and pressures differently and there are certainly no magic formulas to help calm anxiety symptoms. However, there are skills and tips anyone can use to help deal with feelings of anxiety.
Meditation can be a fabulous way to reduce stress levels and improve cognitive abilities. Having a regular workout routine can be essential to relieving stress from daily life. Using essential oils like lavender are helpful to increase relaxation. Creating and maintaining meaningful relationships is essential for emotional support.
Taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly helps decrease the heart rate and reduce the chance of panic attacks. Listening to slow and relaxing music can put an individual in the correct mindset to let go of anxious feelings. Reducing social media use will allow people to rest their brains and recover.
Being aware of what helps an individual personally is crucial to conquering anxiety. Letting go of social media for some time is a great way to reduce anxiety and be more productive. However, if none of these things help please contact a medical professional.