Advice for the floundering first-year (3/22/19)

Dear First-years,

It’s almost midterms, and with those come increased academic stress. We’ve all heard tips on how to decrease this kind of stress: do yoga, deep breathing, eat right, etc. But I want to talk about what happens when your stress is greater, and these simple fixes don’t help. Occasional anxiety is normal, but if you have felt uncontrollable stress for at least six months, about a number of different aspects of your life, you might have an anxiety disorder.

I have struggled with anxiety for years, but I never got help for it until this semester. It’s still something I find difficult to talk about, but if writing about it here helps at least one person, it will have been worth it.

Of course, only a licensed psychologist can diagnose you with General Anxiety Disorder, but if you feel like the following symptoms affect you, it might be time to make an appointment with the Counseling Center. Anxiety symptoms include: feeling restless (like you’re on edge all the time, being easily fatigued, having difficulty concentrating, irritablity, trouble controlling feelings of worry, and having sleep problems, among other things.

If you think these symptoms may describe you, the first step would be to make a counseling appointment. The center at Gustavus allows students to have up to 12 free sessions a year, but you’ll want to make your appointment as soon as possible, as the wait time can be up to three weeks. Of course, it’s normal to brush these symptoms off and think “I don’t need help, I’m managing on my own,” but try to push past that mindset. There is nothing wrong with getting help, and you will feel better after you do.

Taking the first step to getting treatment can be the hardest part, I understand that. I went through that. But I encourage you to try counseling, at least once, at least to hear what they have to say. You can do this, and you are going to be okay.