College is a crazy, fun, stressful, exciting experience. Classes can be especially stressful and time-consuming, and sometimes difficult to balance. For me personally, classes were hard but they rarely stressed be out to a point where I couldn’t handle them. Yes, there were times during college where I was quite stressed, and at times anxious, but time management came easy to me and I spent a lot of time taking courses that really interested me (and the passion I had for these courses helped lessen my stress about them). However, I did have some friends who struggled more with coursework, and sometimes I could really see the stress and anxiety building in them. These people were some of my closest friends, so it was super important to me to try to help them.
One of my friends, in particular, got super stressed about exams, and it seemed like all her exams would be within the same two-week span a couple times each semester. Once around midterms and the other around finals. She would spend hours at the library studying for these exams. She would get super anxious about how much time she had to study, and would stress herself out with worst-case scenarios. As her friend, I found it hard to see her so stressed and anxious about tests. So whenever she was stressed I would do a few things that I thought would help relieve some of this anxiety that she was feeling. Here are some of the things I would do to help my friends out during stressful times in their academic careers.
- I would ask her to meet me for lunch, dinner, or just for a break during the day (in between classes or after exams). I would also meet her where she was. Since we went to a large university, it was less of a burden for her to meet up with me if it was close to where she already was. I found that having lunch or dinner with her allowed her to relax, have a nice meal, and talk about things other than exams and coursework.
- I would also offer to study with her. Sometimes being in a library all day is exhausting, and it is nice to be able to take a five-minute break and talk to your friend that’s sitting right across the table from you. I think this is helpful because you can also help ease some of their worries about their exams. My close friends are always my biggest support system when I feel anxiety coming on, it’s nice to have people to listen to you. I feel like sometimes it can ease your friend’s anxiety if they just have some to complain to, who is there to listen (especially right when they’re studying).
- Try being there for them in whatever way you can. If you aren’t physically with them, maybe text them and see how they’re day is going. Sometimes when you’re stressed about a specific thing, it’s nice to have someone in your life to take your mind off that, even if it’s just for a little bit. This can help remind your friend that there is a life outside this class, outside this exam, that is important. I think that having a friend to talk to about something different is so nice when you’ve been thinking about school for so long. Like I mentioned, even if you can’t physically be with them you can still reach out.
- Finally, I don’t pressure them to stop studying, go out, or blow off class. Sometimes my friends and I would plan fun dinners or nights out and we would get so sad when a friend would opt to stay in and study. It was easy to pressure them into going, but I think it ultimately gives them more stress. So, instead of pressuring your stressed out friends to skip the studying and go out, you should plan a fun night in with them. Have a low-key movie night that only takes up two hours of their night, or offering to come to their apartment and just be there with them watching Netflix while they go over their notes is super nice for them.
You may find that some of these suggestions will work with your anxious and stressed out friends. However, everyone is different, so just remember to be there for your friends and listen to them. College is stressful, but can be more stressful for other. Remember that being there for someone can be just the thing to take their mind off that pesky anatomy exam, or whatever it may be. Friendships are so important in college, so make sure you try to be the type of friend you want to have.
By: Kelly Martin, Anxiety In Teens Contributor