Anxiety can be one of the hardest parts of post-secondary education, and of adult-life in general. At some point, almost all of us have experienced those all-encompassing feelings of fear, dread, and confusion that so often go hand-in-hand with getting older, moving through life, and figuring out what it is you want to do. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent anxiety from taking control. Recently, growing anxiety levels amongst young adults has led to a surplus of amazing resources (both on campus and online) for anxiety management. Whether you’re looking for in-person counselling, a safe space, or a two-minute distraction, there will be something in this list for you.
The SFU Health & Counselling Services, located in The Maggie Benston Centre, offers counselling services for all students. With professional psychologists and counsellors, there’s always somebody ready to listen and help you meet the challenges of academic and personal life. They also offer therapeutic events throughout the semester such as Kitten and Puppy Therapy.
Comprised of a 24/7 Lounge Area for women and an All-Genders Resource Area, the SFU Women’s Centre truly has something to offer everyone! From crisis and trauma aid, an inclusive prayer space, open kitchen, and an extensive library, the Women’s Centre is the place to be for an anxious student. They also offer free use of a phone, pads and tampons, pregnancy tests, safer sex supplies, tea, coffee, and snacks. Be sure to stop by The Rotunda and make use of their comfortable couches and friendly faces!
If your anxiety is more career-related, check out the SFU Career & Volunteer Services offices, located in the Maggie Benston Centre. Make an appointment with a Career Education Specialist or a Career Peer Educator (students themselves!), who can help you work through career-related anxiety. The CVS works by a philosophy that says it's actually good to not have a career plan in mind, because it keeps you open to exploration! Volunteer resources are also available here, a great way to discover something you love and feel a part of the community in a new way.
Headspace is a website which provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training. Described as a “gym session for your mind”, Headspace claims that people who practice meditation experience less anxiety. Browse and pick sessions that suit your own needs! Sign up is free, and Headspace can be accessed via app or online.
If Headspace isn’t your cup of tea, or if you find yourself listening to the same sessions over and over again, Calm.com, a “simple mindfulness meditation app”, is a similar resource. Calm.com provides you with an easy way to set goals and motivate yourself by letting you keep a ‘streak’, which keeps track of how many days in a row you’ve listened to their guided meditations
7 Cups is a free, completely anonymous online chat with trained listeners and online counselors. Once you subscribe, you’ll be automatically connected with a “listener”, or you can choose a trained therapist. You can also customize your listener preferences to find someone you feel really comfortable with – for example, someone who has had similar life experiences. Use 7 Cups to spill your guts without any worry!
Students Against Depression is a website run by students, for students. It offers information and resources validated by health professionals, as well as tips from students who have experienced it all themselves. A growing community, Students Against Depression aims to first help students understand their depression, then take action against it. Have a browse!
Manage anxiety on your smartphone! The free SAM App aims to monitor anxious thoughts and behaviours, and help manage anxiety levels through self-help exercises and reflection. You can also use the “social cloud” feature to anonymously share your experiences with the SAM community.
Quite literally the most peaceful place on the internet. The Quiet Place is a good website to visit on those days where everything is overwhelming. Explore the various “rooms”, and relax. Try the 90 second guided relaxation for a quick fix in the middle of your day, or take a look into the “thoughts room”, where you can quite literally watch your anxious thoughts float away.
Check out this easy-to-use website to mix and match soothing sounds into the perfect, personalized background noise for studying, meditating, reading, or falling asleep.
If the above resources weren’t enough for you, check out these fun websites, guaranteed to calm an anxious mind:
make-everything-ok.com - A fun little site created to bring a little bit of comfort to your day. It may not actually solve any real-life problems, but it sure is satisfying to press!
weavesilk.com - A good distraction from everyday anxiety, this website allows you to create silk patterns with your mouse/trackpad, and watch them get progressively more complicated.
donothingfor2minutes.com - This website times you for two minutes, encouraging you to do absolutely nothing for those two minutes. A good break to take while writing papers, “Do Nothing for 2 Minutes” encourages you to let go of constant stimuli and distraction.
calmingmanatee.com - Lastly, this one will brighten your day with a little bit of humour. This website generates pictures of manatees and puts encouraging slogans on them - because who doesn’t want a pep talk from a manatee?
Yes, overcoming anxiety is an ongoing process. None of these resources will be a quick and easy fix. However, they may be the first step in taking action against your anxiety, or perhaps they may become a part of your daily routine to lower stress levels over time. Try making it a goal to attempt one new anxiety-reducing method a week, and see what happens. Good luck!