Coping with anxiety
May is mental health awareness month and it is important to know all it entails in order to help oneself and others.
Coping with world events can be stressful and lead to anxiety. Anxiety can take on many forms and look all kinds of ways.
Mental health counselor and Charleston Southern University’s Assistant Professor of Clinical Counseling, Elizabeth Wofford, Ph.D., LPC, explained that college students can cope with world events by limiting their access to media.
“Stay up-to-date but don’t get caught up in the drama as it creates an overstimulation and a sense of overwhelmed feeling because you feel like you can’t do anything to help,” stated Wofford. She continued, “Find something active you can do that helps move towards the goals that matter to you, such as advocating or donating or volunteering.”
Wofford also explained how a healthy reaction requires time to let the emotions sink in.
“Take time to feel and acknowledge your feelings and reactions. Pushing them away just makes them worse,” said Wofford.
Wofford also encourages to find support.
“Find people to grieve with and then take action with,” Wofford said. “Counseling is always a good idea even if it’s mostly preventative before things get too bad, but when you start to lose focus or ability to do what feels like your normal life, and you just don’t feel like yourself, you can’t seem to feel happy or relaxed or content, it’s worth asking for help.”
Anxiety can be displayed both internally and externally, and Wofford shares some telling signs of anxiety in college students and adults, including physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, loss of appetite, restlessness, irritability, a short fuse, or not feeling like yourself.
“Anxiety takes up your buffer space. Everything is harder and seems bigger and you flip a switch much more easily, especially when a lot is going on to take up that space. It’s important for each person to learn their own signs of anxiety and learn how to catch them early in order to actually focus and deal with the feelings instead of push them away and make them worse,” explained Wofford.
If one sees someone exhibiting signs of mental health distress, Wofford gives some tips on how to best help them.
“First, making sure basic needs are cared for. Are they eating, sleeping, able to get any relief from basic things or just asking about their feelings with a safe person? It’s probably worth seeking out of professional,” stated Wofford.
Remember that if you or a person you know are going through distressful times, reach out for help!
Some helpful resources in the area include: