At last, we have made it to the fifteenth week of the fall 2021 semester at the University of Connecticut. Simultaneously, I sigh in relief at the fact that we’ve almost made it, and yet I am also filled with anxiety. If it wasn’t already before, it’s definitely crunch time now, with finals starting in a mere two days.
Earlier this semester, I wrote about being thankful for everything UConn has given me now that I’m actually here, and I still fully believe that. As I said, I love my life at UConn and am genuinely sad it’s going to be put on pause, even if just for a month. Thus, the fact that the semester is wrapping up is a terrifying thought. It feels as if everything is changing all at once, and all I can do is watch it happen.
One of the biggest issues I personally face when dealing with anxiety surrounding change is not even really the nerves themselves: I get upset with myself for feeling scared in the first place. I know it’s not helpful or productive, but I still end up beating myself up for having such negative thoughts, even when I’m not choosing to. And I don’t think I’m entirely alone in feeling this way.
Other than my finals, I have been working on personal growth this week. I have been working to remind myself that when I start getting upset with myself for feeling overwhelmed, it is okay, so long as I don’t let it consume me. Like a Pinterest affirmation, I don’t necessarily have control over my worries, but I can work to keep them from negatively impacting my health, relationships, job and schoolwork. I know fear of change can be paralyzing in the moment. However, you need to remind yourself you are capable of getting past those thoughts. While they may slow you down on your way, they don’t have to stop you from getting where you want to go.
In essence, when I start to get nervous about the semester ending, finals, going home for a while, or the many unknowns plaguing the spring semester, I remember I am stronger than my own thoughts. I can take my anxieties, acknowledge them, and still stay in a productive mindset.
This requires finding ways to help yourself. Personally, I find that a distraction can be very helpful. If a certain paper is stressing me out, stepping away for even ten minutes can help me calm the nerves and return with fresh eyes.
In a similar way, getting some exercise can make irrational fears much smaller and therefore more manageable. First, exercise is quite literally a distraction from the thing making you anxious. Moreover, moving your body decreases tension, and increasing your heart rate increases the availability of chemicals that fight anxiety, such as serotonin.
My next suggestion might sound a little silly, but try calling your mom. It can also be extremely beneficial when the whole world feels a little too unstable under your feet. I’ll be the first to joke about your mom being your number one hater in life, but presuming a decent relationship, they are also your number one supporter. The added benefit of discussing your fears with your mom is that moms have so much more life experience than we do; they know seemingly everything. And if your mom can’t necessarily pick up the phone the exact second you’re feeling anxious, talking to any familiar voice will benefit you.
I would also suggest making a daily list of all the things you need to accomplish. I firmly believe lists are good for the soul and help you to visually see the things stressing you out so you can plan how to tackle them all.
It is also important to remember to take basic care of yourself. Shower regularly. Remember to eat, even if your fears make your stomach feel tight. If possible, eat nutritious foods that make you feel good. Above all else, prioritize your sleep.
So, the semester is ending, but it’s going to be okay. They only way out is through, and thus we will face finals and the fears they bring head-on. It’s fine to be a little scared, but it’s also important to remember that worrying, in most cases, makes you suffer twice. We’ll get through this, Huskies, and we’ll be back and better than ever in the spring. I’ll miss you until then. And thank you for taking a little peek inside Maddie’s mind in the meantime.