The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anxiety and Depression at University

Ah, college—the “best years of your life.” But what happens when those years aren’t as picture-perfect as you’d hoped? Balancing coursework, a social life, and possibly a job can be tough, and even tougher when you’re battling anxiety and depression. But fear not! By understanding these conditions and learning how to engage in some sweet strategies, it is possible to manage and overcome these challenges. At Simi Psychological Group, our therapists “get it.” Here are a few practical tips from our psychologists in Moorpark and Thousand Oaks that can help you navigate this precarious time in your life with ease (or at least with a little less stress).

➔    Support and Connection

First things first. When you’re struggling, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone, that you’re the only one who’s having a tough time. The fact is, that’s just not true. It’s important to reach out to positive peers and engage with others.

College can be a great opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share your interests. Seek out positive social connections by joining clubs, organizations, or campus groups that align with your passions. Surround yourself with supportive friends who understand and respect your struggles. Participate in social activities and events, but remember to maintain a healthy balance between socializing and personal time. Building a strong support network can provide you with a sense of belonging and help alleviate feelings of isolation.

➔    Prioritize Self-Care

When you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, it’s important to prioritize your own needs. Take a break from studying to do something you enjoy, whether that’s listening to music, going for a walk, or reading a book.

Self-care can be anything that relates to your overall physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

  • Movement! This can be anything from a workout at the gym, to dancing your head off at that raging, um, social gathering, to taking a quiet walk through campus. There is often an abundance of physical activities and opportunities for movement on campus or nearby.
  • Meals- there’s no need to get overly rigid, but making an effort to include some veggies on that pizza can be helpful. Or, perhaps, incorporate those greens somewhere else. The idea is that eating a balanced diet does help with your mood and energy level.
  • Go to bed! Yeah, it might be tempting to pull that all-nighter or stay up into the wee hours of the night gabbing with your girlfriends, but lack of sleep and poor sleep hygiene takes a huge toll on your body.
  • Breathe, Baby, breathe! Meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises are all really helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. Go ahead and try the things that may seem “hokey” (because, surprise, they work).

Count to 10, take those big deep breaths, or participate in guided imagery, for example, all of which our anxiety therapists in Moorpark and Thousand Oaks swear by. 

  • Have fun! Look for things that spark joy, things that light you up. Find a creative outlet. And don’t be afraid to try something new. Everyone is a beginner at the beginning.

Self-care includes things like staying active and moving your body, and eating something other than pizza.

By taking care of your physical and emotional well-being, you can better manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Make self-care a habit, not a luxury.

➔    Work smarter, not harder

The demands of college academics can contribute significantly to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Some students fall into the trap of believing that the key to success is to work 24/7, but that’s not sustainable or healthy.

Time management is key, and you can start by identifying your most productive hours of the day and planning your study schedule around them. Try breaking down large assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks, and maintain a realistic schedule.

Don’t forget to take breaks and stay organized.

Prioritize your workload, set achievable goals, and ask for help when needed. Seek support from professors, academic advisors, or tutoring services if you are struggling academically.

If you find yourself struggling in spite of your best efforts, at Simi Psychological Group, we offer psychological testing that can help identify whether or not there are additional issues, such as ADHD or a potential learning disability.

➔    Communicate with your professors

It’s important to let your professors know if you’re struggling with your mental health. Not only does this help them understand why you might be having trouble keeping up with coursework or miss class, but it also allows them to work with you to find solutions.

➔    Don’t forget to laugh!

Humor is a powerful tool that can help shift your perspective and make you feel better, even if only for a moment. Watch a funny movie, listen to a comedy podcast, or just enjoy a good laugh with friends.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins which can reduce stress and anxiety levels.

So, let yourself be silly, and don’t take everything too seriously.

➔    Recognize the signs and seek professional support

Finally, another crucial step towards managing depression and anxiety is recognizing the signs and symptoms.

Persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, constant worry, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and social withdrawal are common indicators.

If you notice these signs in yourself or someone you know, it’s essential to seek support. Recognize that it’s okay to ask for help and that perfection is not attainable. Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion.

If you’re looking for therapy In Moorpark or Thousand Oaks, we can help. At Simi Psychological Group, we offer a variety of services to support you and help you on your journey, including therapy for anxiety, treatment for depression, and group therapy options as well.

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and there are people available to support you.

College can be a tough time for anyone, and it can be even harder for those struggling with anxiety and depression. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and there are resources available to help you. By connecting with others, prioritizing self-care, managing academic stress, and reaching out for support, you can manage your mental health and thrive in college. Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so take care of yourself!

For more information on how our experienced and compassionate therapists in Moorpark and Thousand Oaks can best support you, contact us today!