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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Reducing your anxiety with the three “F”s

October 2, 2020

Let's be real - starting university is exciting but SCARY! For many people, it results in a large amount of anxiety. How will I meet friends? How will I do in my classes? How am I going to do this all from my home?! You may feel like you’ve been taken out of your cozy pond and been thrown into a huge ocean. It’s okay, like Dory said, “just keep swimming”. You will find your way.

First thing’s first: YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I repeat: you are not alone. It is okay to feel anxious about starting your first year at Ontario Tech University. This is not an article telling you not to worry and then giving you a few basic tips on how to cope. Let’s be real, you’ve heard them already and you could‘ve found them in a basic google search. 

This article won’t waste your time. Pinky promise. Here’s why:

This article is written by a real-life Ontario Tech University student! I won’t speak much about myself as this is about YOU, but I want you to know that these tips come from someone with an anxiety disorder. I went through every possible anxiety breakdown, or what I like to call the three F’s: finances, friends and fundamentals. Great news: I went through all the road bumps already, so you don’t have to! 

If you don’t read this entire article, no hard feelings. The one thing that you need to know is that if you are experiencing high levels of anxiety or depression please reach out for help. Going through university when you suffer from a mental illness can feel very challenging. You are not alone. 

Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS): 1-833-456-4566

How to Reduce Your Anxiety Based on the 3 F’s: Finances, Friends & Fundamentals

Finances

Are you feeling super anxious about how you will pay for university? Books, residence, food and tuition in general are huge financial responsibilities. If you are responsible for paying for some or all of these, this could be causing you a large amount of anxiety. Here’s how to stay on top of it. 

Book an Appointment with Ontario Tech’s Financial Aid Office NOW 

I’m not kidding. This is something that can help you tremendously. Financial aid is often just sitting waiting to be given to people who apply for bursaries. This process is simple and can be made even easier when you speak to one of Ontario Tech’s support staff. 

Ontario Tech’s Financial Aid office has helped me tremendously over the last three years. I’m paying my way through university on my own and it’s HARD! Trust me, by simply booking one appointment each semester and applying for bursaries, you can potentially take some of this stress off of you. You can work with the Financial Aid office to find a plan that works for you. This will also help relieve an overwhelming amount of anxiety. If you book your appointment now, it will help, I promise. 

Friends

Okay. So this is likely a major factor that might be making you anxious. The most important thing to know about university is that no one is judging you. Seriously, no one will think twice about you walking to class, eating lunch or even going to an event alone. Why is this the most important thing to know? Knowing and truly feeling that you are safe within the Ontario Tech community is the first step to being happy here and making friends.

I know that this upcoming semester is fully online, but this still applies. Why? Once you know that no one is judging you and everyone is in the same boat, you hopefully will be less anxious to do things on your own. What happens when you go to - online - events, answer questions in class or feel safe enough to generally speak to other students? YOU MAKE FRIENDS! Trust me. You might feel anxious at first, but the more you engage with others, the more friends you will make. So join that club, complement that person’s shirt and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Do that and you’ll make friends naturally. 

Still feeling anxious about talking to new people?

Don’t worry, you already have a friend!  You have your peer leader! Your peer leader is an Ontario Tech student who is willingly volunteering to support you in your university transition. They are there to answer your school-related questions, provide you with support and most importantly, they are someone who will be your friend.  Reach out to your peer leader, they will be happy to hear from you.

Fundamentals

Here’s the part where all of the a,b,c’s of school-related anxiety come into place. Here’s a breakdown of potential triggers and how you can cope.

Trigger: Testing Anxiety

Not to fear, the Test Centre is here! The one major thing that will help contribute to your success is booking an appointment with the Student Accessibility Services. You will be able to get so much support. Extra time on tests and exams, a quiet Test Centre to work in, all the way to therapy sessions. These people are the nicest in the world. First step: send a quick email and book an appointment. They will direct you from there. It’s that easy. 

Contact Info: 

Student Accessibility Services and the Test Centre: studentaccessibility@ontariotechu.ca.

Student Mental Health Services: studentlifeline@ontariotechu.ca.

Trigger: Time

Not having enough time is something that can be really anxiety-inducing. Schedule out everything, but not in a way that can be damaging to your mental health. 

Instead of writing down everything you have to do that day from the first sip of coffee at 8:04 a.m. to your shower at 9:46 p.m., buy or make a day planner and write your priorities for the day. Make a few work/school-related priorities, such as “finish your paper” or “read one chapter”. 

Make health-related priorities, such as “walk for 30 minutes”  (exercise does wonders, skip to bonus tip: exercise daily). Finally, make priorities for self-care. Take care of yourself first and foremost. Schedule time for a few things that make you feel calm and happy. Such as play video games, bake cookies or take a bubble bath. 

Trigger: Failure

First thing: don’t be afraid to fail. Fearing failure only manifests it. Failure is hard, yes, but the main result of failing is learning. You fail therefore you learn. Take what you’ve learned from that failure and use that to come back even better than before. Once you stop fearing failure, you can focus on what you’re actually here to do…LEARN! Regardless, you will be okay. You will have access to tons of support. Here are some tips.

How-To Succeed in Your Classes

Actively listen

Be truly present. You showed up. Why waste your time on social media, texting or distracting yourself from what you came here to do? Conquer that lecture. Surround yourself with things that inspire productivity. I know it’s hard to work from home, but lock that phone in a drawer and set screen time limitations. You’ll thank me later.

Keep track of your due dates

Get a journal, schedule them on your phone, do anything that works for you, but make sure you write these dates down. Why is this important? You can use this to prioritize your assignments based on when each of them is due. 

Know when you need help:

We all need help. Good news: Ontario Tech has a ton of programs that can help you. Go to your professor and TA’s Office Hours. You can even go to the Student Learning Center they over a bunch of services from drop-in times to get assistance with homework all the way to one on one support. You can check out their website to take advantage of this.

Done all of these tips and still feel anxious?

Quick anxiety reducers that seriously kick butt

Shake it like a polaroid picture

Yes, seriously. First step: go into a bathroom stall. Since we’re currently studying from home The stall can be switched out for any place in your home, as long as you’re alone. Next Step: Stand up and SHAKE! Move your arms, get loose, pretend you’ve turned into jelly. You can literally shake some of the nerves right out of you. It feels amazing and never fails to get some of those jitters out of your body, especially if you get really into it. 

Superman Pose

Put your hands into fists and keep them by your sides. Stick out your chest and breath deeply. This will help make you feel powerful. Remember: You can do anything! 

Smell, hear and see

Breath deeply. Pick one thing you can see and focus in on it, then move on to one thing you can smell, then pick one thing you can hear. This will help ground you, helping you feel more in control. 

Bonus tip: exercise daily

This task may seem daunting to many. It will help reduce your anxiety. When you feel anxious take a walk, play a game of basketball or even do some light stretching. Moving your body can really do wonders for relieving anxiety. It’s hard to get moving, but once you do, you’ll feel a lot better.

The end of this story, but not yours

That’s it! Everything a real-life student learned in three years all summed up into 1,700 words. Who would’ve thought that I’d be sitting here writing an article highlighting all of the stressors I’ve gone through in the last three years? Everything that could’ve gone wrong did, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I was dealt those cards. Life truly isn’t about being perfect. If it was, it would be one heck of a boring life. What great story comes from “I wanted this to happen and it did”? The ability to have the courage and take risks, despite feeling anxious about it, is truly admirable. You will be alright and you will eventually soar… You’re just learning how to fly first. Be patient with yourself, seek help when you need it and always believe that things will get better because they will. You’re still writing your story.