lright gang, EA and ED application deadlines have passed. It's all out of your control, and now, the waiting begins. ED decisions will be posted online on Monday, November 19th at 4pm. EA letters will head out for most students in mid December. Green Wave portals will be updated a few days after letters are mailed out.
No need to keep checking the mailbox or portal until then. Hopefully, knowing exactly when you'll hear back will reduce anxiety a little bit. Speaking of anxiety...
I’ll be the first to admit it; for intermittent portions of last year, I had some serious anxiety. That's what today's blog is all about. Whether it was professional or personal, I oftentimes let my brain run wild, creating various scenarios and possibilities. For you high school students, I suspect that this feeling is not totally foreign, especially around this time of the year as you await your incoming admission decisions. The exams, the late nights, the application deadlines, the drama in school, etc. It is college application season and anxiety is, unfortunately, all too common in this process. For me, I couldn’t shake the anxiety. As soon as my alarm would sound in the morning, my brain would start racing with to-do lists, emails to send, and things not done from the day before. To be honest, it was nearly debilitating.
Then, about a year ago, it all changed.
I know it seems somewhat dramatic to say, but there was one main thing I can credit my anxiety-reduction to: meditation
. I was a naysayer forever — I thought meditation was silly, too hippy-dippy, not for me. I was also certain that I didn't have the attention span for it. And then, I tried it. And... it worked. I am not saying it wiped out my anxiety, but there is no doubt it's had a profound impact on my life.
It has worked so much for me that I want to share some of my tips for reducing anxiety in your hyperactive high school lives. It’s my hope that by doing a few of the things below, you can start to see some positive changes and maybe manage this crazy stressful and anxiety-inducing time of the year.
. All I'm saying is to try
it. Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose. Even just ten minutes a day. Remember, they call meditation a “practice” for a reason: you’re not going to master it the first time you try it. Or even the first ten times. But keep at it for a few weeks. I promise you, you’ll see remarkable results, just like going to the gym. I use Calm
when I meditate and I can't recommend it enough- it's one of the highest rated apps of all time. Try the 7 Days of Calm, it's a free trial. I know others love Headspace
. Marines, pro athletes, CEOs, and millions of Americans have introduced meditation into their daily life. This stuff is the real deal.
2) Don’t post your college application decisions on social media
. If you get into a school, that is great! No need to blast it all over social media, even though I know you are super pumped. Because as you get in, many of your classmates will not. Keep your results off social media and you'll be inadvertently helping those around you. Once you select a school to enroll at, by all means post about it. But in the crazy ED/EA season, it goes a long way to show some humility.
3) Treat your brain like it’s your roommate
. Here is something I learned from the concept of mindfulness and specifically from this great book I read called The Untethered Soul
. Basically, your brain is like your roommate. It’s always going to be nagging you, talking to you, reminding you of things, giving you its opinion in an endless narrative. The most important thing to remember is this: you can choose what you listen to. Just because your brain is always talking to you, doesn’t mean you have to listen to it. Imagine if all the negative or anxious thoughts that you have came from an actual person saying those things to you; they'd kinda be a real annoying jerk who you'd never listen to in real life. After all, if you could control your brain’s thoughts, you’d only think positive things, right? As soon as you starting thinking “I’ll never get into this school," "I am going to bomb the ACT," just remember — you don’t have to listen to negativity. Just like that annoying roommate, you don't have to listen to it.
4) Take note of how much time you're spending on your phone
tracks the amount of time you spend on your phone and WOW is this an eye opener. The data from studies linking phone addiction to anxiety
and depression is eye-popping. When I downloaded the Moment app I nearly threw up when I saw how many hours I spent on my phone in one day. In the new iOS update, you can limit your screen time and put your phone in downtime mode at a specific time in the evening and limit your social media use. Do all these things.
5) Don’t look at your phone before you go to sleep or right when wake up.
This is a continuation of the previous tip. When you are on your phone right before you go to bed, the stimulation from the phone keeps you awake and also keeps your mind racing. Instead, read a book. Meditate. Do something besides sit in bed and stare at your phone. If you have to look at your phone before bed, adjust the Night Shift on your phone
before you do so. This takes out the colors that make it hard on your eyes in the evening. Right as you wake up, don't grab your phone and check Snapchat or Instagram. Just let yourself wake up. What good will it do to read aggravating political news before bed? Or wake up to look at someone else's filtered vacation photos? I made a big change recently and started charging my phone in the kitchen rather than the bedside table at night. I boldly suggest you try this.
6) Take it a step further and take a little break from social media altogether
. This one is tough, I know, especially in the world we live in. It's remarkable how much anxiety it can give you when you are consistently comparing your life to your classmates and experiencing FOMO. One small step I recommend is getting rid of the Facebook app on your phone and just checking it when you happen to be on your computer. Or pick one to commit to: Insta Story OR Snapchat, not both. As it turns out, you're not missing as much as you think you are. Case in point — the people who don't us social media at all are always cooler than me and never seem to have any anxiety about not being on it. I've blogged about this before
. Social media is you comparing your worst moments to everyone else's best moments.
7) Learn to respond, not react.
This is one that is going to take some time and won't happen overnight. But by practicing some mindfulness and maybe a little meditation, you'll get there. Simply put, reacting
is the knee-jerk reaction to a situation. Responding
is taking a breath, collecting your thoughts, mulling it over, and then replying. Next time someone emails you something obnoxious, instead of immediately reacting with an equally obnoxious email, sit on it, even sleep on it, and write a well-thought-out response. You'll be glad you did. Great example: if you get deferred or denied from a school, don't react. Respond
. You'd be shocked how many students and parents send me expletive-laden emails when they are not admitted to Tulane. That is called a reaction
8) Be patient with others
. I was on the airplane last week with a mom and her baby. The baby would NOT stop crying. Everyone was glaring at the mom with a "shut that kid up" look on their face. Now, think of it this way — who is the only person on that plane who wants that baby to stop crying more than you? Right. The mom. So be patient. I bet that baby will stop crying a whole lot sooner if the other people on the flight gave the mom a few compassionate looks of patience. Patience with others (your school counselor for example) can lead to a remarkable amount of anxiety reduction of your own.
9) Let Thanksgiving be a college-free zone.
Everyone is going to ask where you applied, where you got in, where you want to go. Set some ground rules with the fam. Mom and Dad, you might have to lead this charge. Let this be a time with your family to decompress, truly enjoy each other's company, and leave all that college-talk for some other time. There's not much that can be changed now, so getting into stressful conversations over the turkey won't help anyone. Go play some football instead. Speaking of which...
. But like, REALLY, exercise. One of the absolute best ways to reduce your anxiety is to get a really good workout in. Not just a casual jog, but something where you really push yourself. Take a boot-camp class, maybe even a spin class, but do something that pushes you harder than usual. If you're a freshman at Tulane, your first spin class is on me
! Or go try Joe for his infamous ABT class.
If you had told me last year I'd be writing a blog encouraging you to meditate, I'd think you had lost your mind! But here I am doing exactly that. Like I've said before, everything will be alright in the end
. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end. You'll get in somewhere, you'll go somewhere. You'll do fine in school and the drama with your friends will come and go. This goes back to deciding what you listen to in your brain. It's not always going to be perfect, but you can be assured, eventually things have a way of working themselves out. I am not saying all will be completely stress-free all the time, but over the course of the next few months, if you try a few of the tips above, you might just experience reduced anxiety in life, even at a time when you'd expect it to be higher than ever.
Good luck out there! And have a happy, delicious and hopefully college-talk-free Thanksgiving.