Don’t Let Anxiety Get in the Way of Your Career

I’ve experienced anxiety for as long as I can remember.  To people who haven’t lived with anxiety as a part of their daily life, it can be confusing to understand the difference between stress and anxiety.  Stress fuels me; it motivates me to work harder, to get things done.  Anxiety however, when it gets too overwhelming, causes me to shut down. When this happens, the simplest things like doing my dishes, become too much to take on, and yet as they sit there unfinished they weigh on me.

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So why am I writing about such a personal topic on our career services blog?  We see a lot of students in our office looking to explore their career options, seeking help with finding jobs and internships, and pursing advice on preparing their career materials.  However, it’s the students we don’t see who worry me the most; the students who become so anxious at the idea of life after college that they have completely shut down that line of thinking.  Unfortunately, that strategy only “works” for so long.  It wears on you.  And as you see your peers begin to figure out their after-graduation plans, you become more and more terrified that you waited too long to get started.

I’m writing this post to let all the students we haven’t seen yet know that it’s never too late (or too early) to come see us.  You don’t have to have it all figured out to meet with a career counselor; in fact most students I meet are feeling extremely lost and overwhelmed.  We are here to help you break your career development down into manageable steps, so that the anxiety over the bigger picture doesn’t prevent you from taking baby steps in the right direction.  Baby steps add up!

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As someone who has experienced anxiety her whole life, I’d like to offer these tips and strategies to help you manage your career-related anxiety:

  1. Write it out. Don’t let it weigh on you.  Writing down how you feel can help you get it off your shoulders, and help you see trends in what brings on your anxiety.
  2. Breathe. It can be hard to remember how crucial breathing is when your overwhelmed by panic.  Check out some of these breathing exercises.
  3. Be mindful. Stay in the moment by practicing mindfulness and gratitude for where you currently are.  Try writing a gratitude journal to focus on the positive.
  4. Be proactive. Even though getting started can be the hardest part, once you have a plan, the next steps won’t feel so overwhelming.
  5. Utilize the resources available to you. Don’t forget about all the wonderful resources available to you as a UConn student.

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By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt