College can be the perfect time to meet new people and form long-term connections with peers and professionals. While many students look forward to this experience, transitioning to college can also be a huge trigger for anxiety.
Social anxiety affects a large number of students each year and is becoming more common. According to the American College Health Association, 63% of college students had feelings of overwhelming anxiety and23% of students reported being treated by a mental health professional in 2019.
But what exactly is social anxiety?
The American Psychological Association defines social anxiety as a fear of social situations that may cause embarrassment or a risk of being evaluated negatively by others.
In what areas can social anxiety affect an individual who is in college?
Interacting through one-on-one or group conversations may be considered simple to some, but for those with social anxiety, uneasiness and fear are commonly experienced.
For college students specifically, this can have an impact on their social, professional, and mental well-being. Students who are faced with social anxiety tend to avoid situations and interactions where the anxiety can present itself.
These students may avoid participating in group projects,lectures, tutoring sessions, social clubs and groups. It may further complicate their educational journey because they will not feel comfortable reaching out for assistance if needed.
Students may also find difficulty connecting with their peers and making new friends, leading them to drop out of school.
What can be done if you are a college student who has social anxiety?
Know Your Triggers:
It is helpful to know what environmental and situational factors trigger your anxiety. This is not to avoid the trigger going forward, but to simply be aware of it.
Create a support system:
Chances are you are not alone in facing anxiety. Your peers may be feeling the same way you are and want someone to connect with.
Check out what resources your school has to offer. Are there any counseling or mental health services?
It can be intimidating to ask for help, but for some it is the only way to manage their anxiety. Try reaching out to family and friends and talk to them freely about what you are experiencing.
As cliche as it may sound, practice does make perfect.
Do you have a presentation you have to give that involves public speaking? It can be frightening to speak in front of others, especially when there is a large audience and your grade depends on it.
Practicing your speech or presentation ahead of time can help with feeling unprepared. You can even practice with a few others who are willing tobe your audience.
Outside of the classroom, practice can be useful with meeting other students or faculty. Go over what you would like to say and how you would like to start a conversation.
It’s tempting to slack off when you don’t feel up to being productive. Exercise and eating healthy can help you along the way.
This can make a difference in gaining mental clarity, developing healthy habits, and improving your mood.
Social anxiety can be managed if individuals are giving the right tools, so try your best to be consistent with your journey to mental wellness!