Anxiety can be hard to deal with, especially in situations when you are surrounded by many people or ones from which you cannot ‘leave’.
Here are some tips for coping strategies. They may not necessarily work for you, but I always think that anything is worth a try.
- Sit close to the door (for speedy exits)
- Sit at the back (so you don’t have the worry of anyone “staring at you”)
- I like to sit near a sink if there is one, just incase I need to throw up with no warning
- Tell a friend, just having someone knowing really helps
- Tell your lecturers, they can offer help and they are really understanding!
- If you are having an especially bad day and you really feel you can’t make it in, email your lecturer as they can mark you in as an ‘authorised absence’ and ensure you get the lecture slides. Trust me they are a lot less understanding if you message them the week after!
- Try some distraction techniques- I like to doodle, or sing the songs to a complex song in my head (such as rap).
- Try grounding techniques, for example 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Describe all these things in as much detail as you can. This should help bring you back into the present moment and stop you from spiraling.
- Try breathing techniques- relax your shoulders, place your hand on your abdomen to ensure you are breathing from there. Breathe in slowly for 6 seconds, pause, then out for 8.
- Try staying a little longer every day, thinking “just 5 minutes longer” and try to increase the time every day. Eventually you may be able to stay an entire lecture, and that is a MASSIVE accomplishment!
- Always be proud of any achievement, no matter how small it may seem. Making it to the lecture and going in, let alone lasting 5 minutes is amazing!
You also have to remember that even if you do have a panic attack, or vomit, or whatever it is that your anxiety does to you that no one will think badly of you. We are adults now, no one will make fun of you and people will just want to help. If you want to leave, you can leave.
Everything you do is an achievement, no matter how small it may seem. Be proud and make sure to reward yourself!