A picture of cherry blossoms

How I Manage Stress and Anxiety

In celebration of #BellLetsTalk day, I wanted to write about how I manage my anxiety. Being a student is a hard time of your life - I’ve personally found that my anxiety has been a lot worse this year, likely from a combo of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that I’m graduating this year and facing a lot of big life changes. 

A picture of cherry blossoms

Of course, accessing mental health support is essential for many people that struggle with stress and anxiety. This blog will focus on smaller things I do outside of therapy to manage my stress and anxiety, but I recommend using the Navi tool if you want to access mental health resources at U of T or looking into mental health coverage you receive under your student health insurance.

Contextualizing anxiety

When I’m feeling anxious, I often need to take a step back to remember other aspects of my life. This is especially relevant if I’m feeling stressed about school - school can seem super important in the moment, but taking time to hang out with someone, go for a walk, play with my pets, or just focus on something else really helps me contextualize my anxiety. I understand that though I may be nervous about something, it’s not nearly as important as I think, as I have other things in my life that are meaningful to me beyond whatever is stressing me out. 

A picture of a grey cat sunbathing

Understanding the root of anxiety 

Often, I’ll feel anxious in general or feel overly anxious about something I know is not that bad. In these contexts, I like to stop and try to understand the root of my anxiety. Doing this allows me to confront my anxiety head-on, and I often realize that what I was stressed about wasn’t that bad after all. In a previous blog article, I wrote about an exercise I do to identify the root of my stress; I definitely recommend trying out this exercise! 

A picture of scribbled text

Focusing on my body

Because my anxiety is created by my mind, I find it helpful to focus back onto my body. Doing physical exercise is great way to do this, as it helps me forget about my anxious thoughts and release some positive endorphins. When I’m not feeling like exercising though, something as simple as a hot shower can help me focus on my body. 

Facing stress head-on 

Finally, sometimes it's easiest to just face stress head-on. I'll tell myself to do the thing I'm stressed about for 25 minutes, which seems like a short enough time that it's not too intimidating to start. Often by the time the 25 minutes are over, I’ll have realized that the thing I was anxious about isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was and my anxiety will have subsided! 

A screenshot of a phone's timer set to 25 minutes
Just 25 minutes!

I hope some of these tips are helpful if you also deal with stress and anxiety! Let me know if you have other strategies in the comments below 🙂 

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