Increasing Number of College Students with Anxiety

I have worked with students for nearly two decades, and the increasing number of students struggling with anxiety is alarming.

A recent article in Psychology Today outlines reasons why so many college students have anxiety disorders.

Diane Dreher states:

Research points to three changes in our culture that could be undermining the mental health of today’s college students.

  1. An increase in materialistic values…
  2. The rising cost of college…
  3. Delayed adulthood and external locus of control…

Let me briefly touch on each point. First, I agree with the author’s statement that today there is more emphasis on materialism, consumerism, and financial success. Just the other day, my wife and I had a conversation with our young children who have begun to place too much importance on material things. “Remember,” I said to my kids, “people are more important than stuff.”

Second, Dreher points to rising costs of tuition and living expenses in the U.S., but the trend is similar in Canada. For example, when I was an undergrad 20 years ago, the average cost of tuition in the country was around $3000. Today, it is more than $6500.

Third, on the idea of delayed adulthood and external locus of control, I concur. Just last week, I was talking with a young man who dropped out of university in his second semester. He blamed everyone but himself for his lack of success.

I agree with Dreher that these factors are affecting students’ development and mental health. But I would add another societal change that also plays a major role: use of technology. Sounds like a topic for another blog.

 

 

On Anxiety

I am afraid of rolling balls and prowling tigers.
They are all around me.
I cannot breathe.

Every day, a child’s ball rolls in front of my car as I drive.
Every night, a saber-toothed tiger prowls as I sleep.

I am afraid of rolling balls and prowling tigers.
They are all around me.
I cannot breathe.

Do I deflate the balls and attack the tigers?
Or do I accept them and let them be?
I want to breathe again.

Making the Beast Beautiful

The title of the book catches my attention: First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

Someone might look at the inside cover photo of the author, Sarah Wilson, and say, “It’s hard to believe someone who looks like this has so many issues.”

With an autoimmune disease and mental health challenges, Wilson has some issues.

But instead of seeing her issues as negative and detrimental, Wilson has come to discover that her so-called afflictions are helpful during her spiritual journey.

And maybe that’s why her photo radiates beauty.

She makes the beast beautiful and helps others see its beauty.

Three Strategies for Coping with Anxiety

Before I met my soulmate, I must have scared off many potential partners with the number of self-help books on my bookshelf.

As I’m helping students deal with test anxiety as the semester winds down, I decided to grab a book off my shelf for some guidance.

Book by Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano.
Cover of the book Coping with Anxiety. Photo by M. Fleming

In Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear, & Worry, the authors surprisingly write about coping with anxiety and unexpectedly offer ten simple ways to relieve anxiety, fear, and worry.

I’d like to highlight three simple strategies outlined in the book.

First, I should note that I’m not trying to simplify the complex nature of anxiety, and I’m certainly not trying to minimize or discount the suffering of those who experience extreme anxiety or have anxiety-related disorders.

Here are the three strategies:

Meditate and relax. I recently purchased some guided meditations and relaxation music from iTunes, and I was amazed at how beneficial it was to my well-being.

Challenge your thinking. Recognize your anxiety-producing thoughts and challenge them. For example, the authors of Coping with Anxiety provide a strategy for challenging catastrophic thinking: identify it, question it, and replace it with a more realistic thought.

Simplify your life. Experts say that a great strategy to decrease stress is to simplify your life. I agree. Less clutter, less stress. I would add fish. More fish, less stress. I miss my pet fish.