School and Anxiety

 

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Hey Everyone!

Today is all about school related/induced anxiety, and how to deal. I feel that this is something that I want to discuss now, because I have been stressed out about studying for the bar exam AGAIN. This time I feel it is more stressful because I’m balancing a full time, adult person CAREER. And I’ve been noticing this old, familiar, feeling of anxiety coming back, and I’m not a fan.

Keep reading for my story of anxiety, and how I deal with it in 3 easy steps.

I first experienced anxiety after completing my first semester of law school. It was a very difficult time for me. I was really sad about leaving undergrad and all of my friends in Pennsylvania. I had just gotten out of a really weird relationship. I was stressed about exams, keeping my scholarship. I was stressed about living on my own for the first time (no roommate) and paying bills when, at the time, I had no job. It was just stress, on stress, on stress. I felt as if that was going to be my life forever, and I was just really upset all the time. It was really hard for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It got so bad that I would wake up every night at 2 a.m. sobbing and I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep until around 5 a.m. I would just lay in bed with this tight feeling in my chest, thinking about all of the things that could go wrong in my life (specifically relating to school and money) and how I wasn’t in control to fix any of them. This is something that happened frequently, and lasted throughout the spring semester of my first year. This only made me feel even worse because on top of all that stress, I was now exhausted all the time.

Anyways, I lived my life this way until my finals in May of 2013. Once my summer vacation started I was 1000% happier. I had a job, an internship, I didn’t have the daily stress of school, I was in a new great relationship, I had made a bunch of amazing new friends. Everything was just great. And at that time I was able to reflect on that last semester. Looking back, it made me so upset that I had let this feeling of hopelessness, and fear overcome me the way it did. So I made a decision that I would not allow my anxiety to overcome me in the coming school year, the way it had in the past.

Here is what I did to overcome my anxiety.

I just want to start by stressing the fact that I’m not a medical doctor, or a licensed mental health professional. Everything I mention in this post is based on my experiences, and how I felt I could help myself.

I Got Organized

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I am definitely not one of those super duper organized people you find on Pinterest (those women are my life goals though). But I got organized enough that I didn’t have anything to worry about. Let me break this down. I targeted the scenarios that I would replay in my head over and over when I was supposed to be sleeping, and I attacked them.

For example, I had anxiety about not being able to pay my bills. So I made a sit down appointment with a person at Bank of America and together we created a financial plan. I’ll get into that in more detail in a different post. The point, is that I set my finances up in such a way that whenever I felt the anxiety of not being able to afford to pay for a necessity or a bill, I would be able to stop myself and be like “it’s okay T.A., there’s nothing to worry about you handled it.” And it would be true, and my anxiety would slowly creep away.

Another financial change I made is that I looked at my bank account at least once a week. That sounds really stupid right? Well not for me. Why? Because I used to do play this little game where I just wouldn’t look at my bank balance because I would be so nervous about how poor I was. But the thing is, not knowing made me more nervous and anxious. Checking my account regularly made me feel more in control. And that ladies and gentlemen, is how you intentionally adult.

Anyways, back to getting organized. I did the same thing with school. I became very organized. My first year I was a little sloppy about recording my assignments. My second year my agenda was color coded. I made sure to transfer my syllabi into my agenda as early as possible. Quizzes, tests, meetings, readings, they were all in there and accounted for. And when I finished an assignment or went to a meeting I would check it off. I also scheduled time to study and do work, which is so important (I’ll have a separate post all about great study habits soon).

That way, whenever I felt that I missed an assignment, or was behind in something, or unprepared, I could stop and tell myself “T.A. you’re on top of it. Don’t worry.” And that would significantly decrease my anxiety.

I Found A Confidant

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This is absolutely super cheesy but my boyfriend is my bestie. We started dating at the beginning of the second semester of my first year. So he was there for the most stressful and horrible time of my life. And he was a really great person to talk to, and lean on when I was feeling really, really upset.

Additionally, (and I recommend this for every person in law school) he was not in law school. THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TAKE AWAY HERE. He is not involved in the legal field in any way. So when I saw him, when we hung out, we weren’t talking about law or homework or quizzes. He wasn’t trying to one up me by telling me how much he studied for something, or making me realize I didn’t know a subject as well as he did. He was such an awesome, and much needed distraction. And because he was outside of the whole law school world, he was able to really help me put things into perspective.

So I really recommend that you start dating someone, or make a group of friends OUTSIDE of your school (whether it be law school, your Ph.D, your grad school, undergrad whatever). Those outsiders can really help you to understand that the world isn’t going to implode if you don’t get an A.

I Got Physical

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I started doing yoga. That was another really great distraction.I was able to fully focus my mind on something that I had never done before. Whenever I felt as if that anxiety was creeping back in, I would just roll out my mat and follow along to some yoga on YouTube. I think in general working out is a great stress reliever anyway. So if you feel as if your anxiety is creeping in then go for a run, do some push-ups or squats. Do SOMETHING. I guarantee that it will take your mind off of whatever is bothering you.

That’s it you guys! Those are my tips and tricks for dealing with my anxiety! If any of you are dealing with anxiety and you have some tips that I didn’t mention leave a comment below! I would definitely love to try them!

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6 Comments

  1. 01/06/2016 / 3:03 PM

    Oh my god. You used to play the “if you don’t look at your bank account it doesn’t exist” game too!? haha.
    I feel like our lives run kind of parallel to each other. Maybe it is just this age and this stage that we are in, but this whole post had me nodding my head. The anxiety, the causes, the tools to surviving it, they all feel so familiar. I enjoyed seeing them written out. Anxiety is so isolating, and sometimes trying to manage it feels like fighting an invisible war with your own awareness (at least it does for me). It’s comforting to see someone not so different from me doing it successfully. Best 🙂

    • ta.masters392@gmail.com
      01/10/2016 / 1:28 AM

      I’m so glad that this is relatable for you! I never told my friends about my anxiety until one of them spoke up about theirs. I honestly felt so relieved just knowing that other people go through this as well! You’re absolutely right, anxiety is SO isolating. But you’re definitely not alone! #BFFS hahaha!

  2. 01/07/2016 / 2:23 AM

    I agree with Kristan checking the bank account on a weekly basis is a soul soother!

    • ta.masters392@gmail.com
      01/10/2016 / 1:29 AM

      It’s all apart of taking control. I think that once you have some semblance of control it can be so soothing!

  3. Brittney
    01/10/2016 / 3:33 PM

    Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious like this I always go to organize and de-clutter! I found that making a small list of what I was even going to organize, and then being able to check it all off as I went was very calming as well.. to feel like I was actually accomplishing something when I felt like I had so many things on my plate.. you know? I wish they taught us this kind of stuff in school growing up!

    • ta.masters392@gmail.com
      01/10/2016 / 6:06 PM

      Cleaning and reorganizing is SO helpful!! I completely agree with checking off a list. Having a physical manifestation of your tasks and what you’ve achieved is so necessary!

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