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How to Deal With Anxiety When Going Away to College

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Going away to college is a major life event that often signifies the beginning of a new chapter in a young person's life. Beginning college combines the uncertainty of moving away from home, often for the first time in a person's life, together with the excitement and trepidation of starting a new school in a strange, new place where you often won't know anybody or anything.

It's certainly a scary time for just about everyone involved and there is a lot of anxiety involved with beginning college someplace far away from home. The anxiety involved with moving away from home and the anxiety that comes with starting college, making new friends, getting into a new routine, adjusting to your new classes, settling into campus life and learning to find your way around, can often be pretty overwhelming.

There's no hard and fast manual on how to properly deal with the anxiety that comes with going away to college, but there are some helpful pieces of advice to follow that will no doubt prove invaluable in those first few days while you're getting acquainted with your new home for the next four years and missing your old home. There's nothing wrong with feeling homesick in those first few days, weeks or even months and it's perfectly normal to feel anxiety or feel like you're out of place. This guide will provide you with a few tips on how you can deal with the anxiety that comes with going away to college.

Anticipatory anxiety

There are two main forms of anxiety that one will experience when moving away to college and the first of those two is anticipatory anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety is a type of anxiety that accompanies major life events such as graduations, weddings, job interviews, starting a new job, etc. Anticipatory anxiety is hard to overcome because of the constant feeling that this event is right around the corner and that you're not prepared for it.

However, most people are more prepared than they seem to realize, and the anxiety they're feeling is simply their body's way of getting them ready for whatever is coming. Anticipatory anxiety can be difficult to deal with, and as that day rapidly approaches when you're to leave for college, it can seem scary and you may feel like you're not ready for it yet.

As Tom Petty sang, "the waiting is the hardest part" and in the days and weeks leading up to when you leave for college, the best way to overcome this anticipatory anxiety is to try and shift your mind off of it and to other, more productive things. Keep your mind occupied with things that make you feel calm or at ease and try listening to your favorite music or watching your favorite movies. Reading a good book will also help your mind get away from all of the anxiety and anticipation for a little while. You can also turn the anxiety into something productive by packing for school and gathering everything that you'll be taking with you when you move.

Separation anxiety

The second type of anxiety that one will experience when moving away to college is separation anxiety. This is the type of anxiety that signals your fear of moving away from your friends and family and leaving behind your home. This kind of anxiety is extremely common and is experienced by almost everyone who leaves for college, especially if it's their first time leaving home. This is part of the natural process of leaving home and coping with the fear of separation and homesickness, but you will overcome it with time and with the support of your friends and family.

The best way to overcome your separation anxiety is to keep in contact with your family and friends back home, and it's never been easier to do so than it is now with all of the technology available that enables you to keep in touch with anybody, no matter where you are. Video chats during your free time will help, as will phone calls, texts, emails, social media or whatever else you use to keep in contact with friends and family. As with everything else though, it's important to do these things in moderation. Closing yourself off from meeting new friends at school and talking too much to friends and family back home will not help you cope with separation anxiety and certainly won't help you meet new people.

Attend parties and social gatherings during your first few weeks at school and sign up for some clubs or student organizations that pique your interest. These are the best ways to meet new people who share similar interests and a great way to overcome your separation anxiety. With enough time, you'll make new friends at school and your anxiety will wane completely. Believe it or not, you may even get to the point where you miss your friends at school when you go back home to visit family.

Anxiety about classes

Another thing that gives new college students anxiety is the fear and uncertainty of college. Most students entering college as freshmen are unsure of what path they want to take and what they want to major in, and this is perfectly fine. Take as many different kinds of classes as you can during your first year or two and with time you'll find a subject that you enjoy.

Studying and staying on top of all your work will prevent you from falling behind and creating more unneeded anxiety. Don't let your socializing interfere with your course work, especially during those first few semesters, as it's much harder to catch up and bring up your GPA after you've fallen behind. You'll quickly develop your own routine with your new classes and settle into a comfortable groove.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on August 14, 2013

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