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Dealing with Separation Anxiety During the Transition to College: From a Recent College Graduate

Now that we’re halfway through summer vacation, parents and their recent high school graduates are planning for the transition to college. While your new college student is likely biting their nails in anticipation of their newfound independence, they may not be prepared for how difficult this adjustment can be.

College freshmen may experience homesickness or separation anxiety within the first few weeks or even months in this new phase of life. In today’s unique post, one of my clients who recently graduated college offers her perspective on transitioning into adulthood with grace and flowing through the ups and downs of anxiety.

You Are Never Alone

Six years ago, I sat on the edge of my childhood bed staring at boxes full of books, decorations, and clothes that I would be taking with me to my new dorm room. I should have felt excited about this new phase of my life... but I wasn’t.

While I won’t dive into the details of my trauma (I could probably write a whole book on that), I will explore some of the key lessons I learned throughout my time in college and am still learning. If you have one takeaway from what I share, let it be this: you are never alone.

Even when it feels like there is no one to lean on, you have the universe on your side. Challenges don’t happen to you; they happen for you. Every single obstacle you encounter is an opportunity to learn a lesson that will only help you grow if you give it that permission.

Let’s Talk About Anxiety

Have you ever experienced severe anxiety or a panic attack? I won’t lie to you – it sucks. You might be convinced that you are literally dying. People often go to the ER for this kind of spinal sympathetic chain response just to be told they “need to relax.”

Your skin and tongue may itch or tingle, you may feel like you can’t breathe, your skin may get really hot or really cold, your stomach might churn and gurgle, your throat and chest might feel tight, you might have muscle spasms that leave you in pain after the panic subsides. Your nervous system may “memorize” these feelings – aka trauma becomes stored in the body.

This is where Jolisa is a lifesaver! Our minds and bodies have incredible self-healing capabilities, but we sometimes need a bit of support and a reminder of the best tools to help us cope. EPThas helped me release trauma I didn’t even know I had. Schedule your consultation with Jolisa Clare Holistic today!

Symptoms don’t have to be extreme in order for anxiety to feel incredibly unpleasant and even debilitating. Other anxiety symptoms include:

  • A feeling of helplessness, sadness, worry, or anger

  • Excessive worry and constant “what if” thinking

  • Fear or resistance to leaving for school and the comfort of home

  • Nightmares or sleeping difficulties

  • Headaches

  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite

  • Crying

  • Racing heart or shortness of breath

If you find yourself trying to “escape” your feelings by turning to substances or going to frat parties and bars several nights a week, you may be dealing with underlying anxiety.

Tips to Navigate the Lows

When you go off to college, you will create some of the best memories of your life but also develop new fears. No one can really prepare you for this journey, so above all else, it’s important to stay present and mindful of what you are feeling through the motions.

As you navigate the winding ebbs and flows of self-discovery, here are five tips from a college graduate to keep in mind.

1. Trust the Process

If you are feeling anxious, don’t try to resist the sensations. This will likely only make you feel worse, as you are creating blockages when your feelings need to flow freely.

Trust that your fear is showing you the path you want to walk on. While you may not understand it in this moment, your anxiety is a powerful teacher. It is natural to experience fear in new situations, like being removed from the comfort of your parents’ home.

Learn to listen to the sensations in your body, and trust that your body knows when you need to rest and breathe versus when you need to take action.

2. Give Yourself Permission to Feel Uncomfortable

It’s easier said than done, but don’t be scared of pain or fear itself. Approach your fear with curiosity and see it as a guide to uncovering your greatest desires. Exploring your fear can help you better understand where it came from and what it’s trying to tell you.

Although it will take time, eventually your fear will walk beside you instead of blocking your path. You will process discomfort with more ease and open up a gateway of opportunities you once thought were impossible.

3. Prioritize Your Health Above Everything

The most valuable asset you have in life is your health. While you are young, it is important to build habits that promote longevity. I promise that while you may not notice the effects of all your good habits, you will certainly notice the effects of all your bad habits.

In your freshman year, it can be tempting to binge drink with friends, eat junk food late at night, lay in bed watching Netflix all day, prioritize partying over sleep, go to bed with makeup on, or skip the gym. While these things are ok in moderation, try your best to prevent them from becoming habitual.

Do not underestimate the value of healthy habits, such as eating nourishing foods, getting 8 hours of sleep, and regularly moving your body, especially if you’re dealing with anxiety.

4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone, but Listen to Your Gut

Listening to your gut instincts can be challenging with a dysregulated nervous system, which is why body awareness practices such as breathwork and body scans are important.

Get outside your comfort zone, especially when you know an action will bring you into alignment with your ideal self. Take on that internship, talk to that professor you admire after class, and say hi to the girl whose style you love. You never know where it might lead you!

However, don’t let other people pressure you into things you aren’t ready for. If you feel like a decision is a bad idea or unsafe, it probably is.

5. Release Attachment to Who You Think You Are

The honest truth is, you likely won’t understand how little you know about yourself until you can reflect on how much you’ve evolved. But this isn’t a bad thing! Get excited about the fact that you never stop growing. If we didn’t have new opportunities to learn about ourselves, life would get boring. It's normal to feel insecure, but that energy will hold you back. Tell yourself that even though you’re insecure now, you will not be insecure in the future.

Eventually, you’ll manifest confidence and security in who you are and all of the versions of yourself you have yet to become!

Stronger Than Your Fear with Jolisa Clare Holistic

If you’re experiencing anxiety of any kind, remember there is no quick fix to truly heal. It takes patience and perspective, so be gentle with yourself.

If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Work with a trauma and emotional release expert like Jolisa Clare Holistic to healthily process the separation anxiety you are feeling during this intense transition. Book your consultation here.


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