By contributor Megan Wolfe
It’s not easy being anxious. With anxiety comes a multitude of symptoms that are draining and time consuming, like staying up all night worrying about what will happen tomorrow, or that offhand comment you made in a casual conversation that will most likely be the last you ever have with that person, because those five words that left your mouth has left a bitter taste in theirs and they clearly no longer want anything to do with you. Obsessing over these thoughts cuts down on your available time to sleep, and then you have to cope with the fact that it’s morning and you have to wake up, leave your warm, comfy bed, and see people. Not only is it nearly impossible to do so and incredibly overwhelming, but going back to sleep for the rest of the day is sometimes the only acceptable response.
How do you get to this level of anxiety, where being a functioning person, let alone an adult, is nearly impossible? Here are five ways to be anxious:
1) Try to think about everything all at once.
Open the flood gates and literally think about everything. Think about the due dates on your assignments and how little time you have until they’re here. Think about the last time you left your house and that awkward interaction you had with your neighbour and how they think that you’re super weird and don’t really know if they’ll invite you to their next BBQ. Overload your brain with so many thoughts that the simple “just breathe” that you know is in there somewhere can’t be heard over the shouting of everything else. For me, this usually happens right before I’m about to fall asleep and when I have something planned early the next morning.
2) Leave everything until the very last second.
That precious half hour before class is when I’m the most productive, scanning through the reading to get a gist of what I’ll eventually be asked to comment on, typing out that last sentence on a simple assignment that should have only taken 15 minutes, but was stretched out to be three days instead. When the dishes literally overtake the entire kitchen, until you don’t even have anywhere to wash them, so you order pizza because recycling a box is easier than washing a plate.
3) Do all the things.
Fill every single second of your waking hours with things to do. Offer to volunteer, make plans for coffee with that friend you occasionally see on the bus and when they decide to come to class, binge that new series on Netflix that came out four months ago that you’ve been meaning to watch, but never really found the time. There are so many ways to ensure that you never take a break and look after yourself during the day, that you forget that you’re even allowed to be tired.
4) Second guess yourself all the time.
Every word you say, every movement or gesture, question if it was too much, whether or not you were understood, did anyone even notice in the first place? From what I’ve heard, it’s uncommon to be able to read minds, so knowing what whoever you’re interacting with is thinking is impossible, but that doesn’t stop you from trying. Question whether you studied enough for the quiz you have today in class, whether you smell funny, if your hair looks weird. Question all of it, all the time, and you’re on your way to being anxious.
5) Just being alive.
There are uncertainties everywhere you go, knowing exactly what the future holds isn’t something that many people can claim, and being unsure about where life is taking you can make a person pretty anxious. Also, your brain might not be receiving the right amount of certain chemicals so you can stay calm and think clearly about what’s going on around you. Being a person is hard, and some days, it’s extra hard to be a person, though friends, family, counselling, and even medication can make it a whole lot easier.
According to the Mental Health Association of Canada, one in five Canadians will struggle with mental illness in their lifetime. Your situation is unique but you don’t have to face it alone, no matter if you’re struggling yourself, or are trying to help someone who is. Reaching out is the best way to get support.
The Health & Wellness Centre in bldg. 200 is a great student resource. Appointments are available for booking by calling 250-740-6416 from 8:30 am – 4 pm. If you need to speak to a counsellor right away, drop-in appointments are available.