There is no right way to deal with anxiety, but there are things you can do to help ease the transition into college as a first-year student.

1. Be realistic about your expectations 

You’ve heard the phrase before, and you’re bound to hear it again that “college is the best four years of your life.” This is true in so many ways: you get to live with your best friends, you have the opportunity to experience new things all the time, you get to learn about subjects that you’re passionate about, and you begin to discover the kind of person you want to be.

But being in college and living on campus away from home also creates a very uniquely stressful environment. Some students transition in with ease, but for many, that transition is one of the biggest changes they’ve ever experienced. From new social circles to potentially more challenging coursework, it’s important to manage your expectations from the start.

Going to live somewhere new with people you don’t know can be nerve-wracking, and it’s normal to have unease about making friends and finding your place. It’s going to be hard — but you’re strong enough to handle it.

2. Consider limiting social media use 

Social media overuse can actually affect a student’s level of anxiety, so cutting back could help to curb additional feelings of anxiety.

Remember that people only post the highlights to their social media, so it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world who is having trouble with this transition. Try taking a social media break, even if it’s just for a day or two, and see if it helps calm your anxiety a little bit. If taking a break from it completely seems daunting, try limiting your social media intake to specific hours during the day or when you’re in a positive mental state to manage the feelings it might bring.

3. Figure out what works for your self-care 

Carving out space during your day to take a break and take care of yourself can be so crucial as you enter college.

If you feel overwhelmed by crowds or surrounded by people on-campus, pop your headphones in and watch an episode of your favorite show. If staying in your room gives you some FOMO, plan a dinner date with your friends and talk about how the first semester is going for you.

Self-care looks different for everyone, so take the time to figure out what your mind needs to power down for a little while.

4. Try to utilize on-campus resources 

If you can, do some research about the services that your university provides — most campuses will have some kind of counseling center where they offer support, and there may even be some student-run resources. You can also talk to an academic advisor for some advice and resources related to your courses.

5. Lean on your support system 

Feeling isolated is only going to exacerbate the things that are already giving you anxiety. Surround yourself with the people who care about you, whether it be in person or over the phone. Tell them how you are feeling, and let them help you if needed. 

There are people around every corner who are rooting for you and who are there to help you through this transition. Accept their help and their love will help fill you up.

*Names have been changed

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