Throughout my university years, I have struggled with anxiety and depression. During this time of the semester (Midterm Season), I find it getting worse. As my to-do list of assignments increases, so does my heart rate. So, I created my perfect (to me!) plan for getting out of this anxiety loop.
My first step to deal with anxiety is cleaning my room. I find that when my anxiety takes a toll, my room gets messy and a lot of water bottles and dishes start to pile up. I actually find cleaning satisfying. The quote “A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind” holds true in my case. I feel much better when my room is back to the way I designed it to be. Thinking back, I also realize that when I first decorated my room, I wanted it to be a comfortable, safe environment with all my happy things out on display. So putting it back to how it was meant to be is very comforting to me and can help reduce my anxiety.
Another strategy I use when I am in an anxiety loop, is to cook/eat one of my favorite dishes. With these dishes, it’s the nostalgia of good memories that come with it that helps my anxiety. My go-to is some good pasta or one of my favorite Indian dishes, “Shahi Paneer”. I usually lose track of my meals and I don’t eat much when I am really anxious or depressed. Getting comforting food in my body also helps with energy levels and just feeling better in general. I always think about how my mom would want me to eat well, even if I don’t feel the best.
I know that assignments feel like they never stop and there is always something due the next day or week. But, taking care of your mental health doesn’t have to be such a big task. It does not necessarily mean you have to stop working on academic tasks. It’s more about doing things in a comfortable manner, and making sure you are also taking care of your health. Including happy things around me, like listening to music when I study or playing white noise in the background when I am working on an assignment or quiz can also help with the anxiety loop. This really lowers the pressure of submitting and finishing on time since I am just working through it as if it’s just another homework assignment.
When I have a really bad anxiety attack in the middle of a task, I write down my feelings and why it’s bothering me so much. I then put a book/rock/anything heavy on it and push it away. This can be a coping mechanism where I will come back to the feelings later, I am just setting them aside for now so I can finish my task.
I think that the key to getting out of the anxiety loop is to fill your mind with things that make you happy. Acknowledging your sad thoughts and letting your feelings out is a must, too. I find that the more you keep feelings inside, the harder it becomes to manage these feelings later. Reach out to your friends, family or even your pet! Get a big hug from someone. There is enough stress during the academic year, so balance it out with fun things. Although it is a stressful time, I also think that these will be some of the most memorable years of my life, and that makes me want to get out of the loop and step into the greener grass on the other side for a while.