The Answer to Your Student’s Anxiety

By Lorena Roberts, Uloop

As mental health challenges take over college campuses across the country, Sarah Wilson strives to share her answers to dealing with anxiety in her new book, “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful,” according to a recent press release. If your college student has ever mentioned struggling with anxiety, New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Wilson, could be the mentor your student needs to tackle their mental health struggle.

Wilson’s novel aims to redefine our society’s conversation about anxiety. Instead of this issue being the challenge to living a stress-free life, Wilson describes her journey with anxiety as a spiritual quest. With all the information available about anxiety (mindfulness coloring books, meditation guides, strict diets, etc.) Wilson’s novel examines all we have to offer this condition, describing her own successes and failures. Wilson’s personal battle with mental health stretches from generalized anxiety to obsessive-compulsive disorder and insomnia. If anyone knows what it’s like to deal with the challenges of being mentally healthy, it’s Wilson.

“First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” takes advantage of what the world has to offer regarding anxiety, including interviews, philosophical mantras, and personal anecdotes. Wilson encompasses her journey with anxiety by suggesting anxious people focus on six simple tasks:

  • Become a gracious person.
Wilson points out that science has suggested anxiety and gratitude cannot co-exist. By focusing on what you’re grateful for, your mind “forgets” to be anxious. Creating a ritual for being gracious will allow your student to let go of obsessing over what triggers their anxiety.
  • Slow down on sugar consumption.
Wilson disagrees with those who suggest your diet has nothing to do with your mental health. By eliminating sugar from your diet, you have better control over your mood swings.

  • Create a routine of accomplishment.
Simply making your bed every day can put you in the right mindset for the day. Override your anxious habits by creating new, healthy ones.
  • Exercise.
Successful individuals will vouch for exercise keeping them healthy — physically and emotionally. Give your creativity room to breathe by spending time in the outdoors. If your student hates to exercise (as many people do), encourage short walks outdoors.
  • Let go of feeling guilty for skipping social functions.
Your student might feel FOMO (the fear of missing out) if they don’t attend all the social functions in college that their buddies seem to enjoy. Knowing it’s okay to skip out on social interaction to have alone time can change your student’s anxious patterns.
  • Breathe.

The most simple way to battle anxiety is to remember to breathe. Wilson’s novel lists breathing as one of the best ways to manage anxiety on a daily basis.

As our society focuses on controlling anxiety with medication, limiting our notion of anxiety to being “dangerous” and “debilitating,” Wilson strives to change the conversation. She sees anxiety as a personal journey, encouraging her readers to embrace their own anxiety as part of who they are. If your college student struggles with anxious thoughts and patterns, Wilson’s novel “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” might be the best way to encourage getting a handle on it.

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