With finals at W&M coming up, I though I’d talk about something all the students are probably experiencing: anxiety. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog before, but when I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to be exact. What a lot of people don’t realize about OCD is that it’s not all compulsive behaviors (like needing to clean everything or having to touch the doorknob twice). I’ll spare you the Psych 101 lesson, but I will give you a quick analogy to help those without anxiety disorders understand those with a bit better. Think of all of your emotions as beakers filled with liquid. When you’re chilling out watching Netflix all of your beakers should be half-full. Those of us with anxiety disorders, however, will have our anxiety beaker almost filled to the top when we’re resting. When more anxiety is poured in, it’s time to reach for the towels.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, like I said, finals are quickly approaching, and managing anxiety or stress can be a bit difficult when you have so much invested in these tests. I’d like to share with you a few tricks I’ve learned that will hopefully help you wipe away your anxiety.
1. Learn how to breath
Sounds silly I know, but learning how to control your breath can be quite helpful when you’re feeling panicked. When you get stressed or worried your heart rate tends to increase, giving you that suffocated, trapped in your body feeling. If you breath in for eight seconds, and then out for eight seconds you’ll slow your heart rate, which will make you feel a LOT better. Don’t worry, you won’t slow your heart rate down so much that you’ll pass out, but you will feel less like you just ran a marathon and more like you just got back from the symphony.
2. Try using a worry stone, or something similar
A worry stone is a small gemstone, usually in the shape of an oval, that you hold between your index finger and thumb. You rub your thumb on the stone, which gives you a way to dispel unwanted anxious energy. I’ve been using them since my senior year in high school (2012 to be exact) and it’s been a great tool for me. When you’re letting go of your anxious energy you can feel less rushed and more relaxed.
3. Dance it out
If you’re looking for a more immediate way to get rid of anxious energy, try channeling your inner Grey’s Anatomy and dancing it out to your fav song. This is even more effective if you have a friend around because you’ll likely end up laughing about how ridiculous you both look. (And trust me, looking ridiculous is a good thing.) I know you’re probably anxious because you have a big test or paper coming out, but you’re not going to be productive if you’re a ball of stress. You need to let it out if you want to buckle down.
4. Watch some TV
Again, you’re not going to do yourself any good if you’re distracted by how stressed out you are. Even if you say “stress fuels me” or “I work well under pressure” there is a point where the pressure is too great. (You’re trying to go for the gold, not turn yourself into a diamond.) Watch a non-stressful (read: not suspense thrillers or 13 Reasons Why) show that feels a bit mindless. I recommend Parks and Rec, the Office or That 70’s Show. They’re all on Netflix right now! (Side note: I promise I’m not sponsored by Netflix…but if they want to that’d be pretty fantastic.)
5. Find your happy song and belt it
Whenever I’m feeling stressed I always sing something that makes me feel happy, like Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. Part of what makes this my happy song is that I never listen to it if I’m furious, only when I’m ecstatic or stressed. That way, I associate the song with happy feelings, so when I sing it when I’m stressed I feel calmed. Scientific? Maybe. Effective? For sure
*Quote by the late, great Carrie Fisher