TORONTO – The first day of school can be a stressful time for students starting out their college and university careers.  

Anxiety over enrolling in a new school – maybe even in a new city – or returning for another year on campus can be counterproductive to academic and social life.

Ryerson University psychology professor Martin Antony says there are several ways to deal with school-related stress.

“Before you can take steps to reduce your anxiety, it is important to understand the nature of your discomfort,” he explained.

Antony suggested that people with anxiety start to overcome it by zeroing in on triggers and how their anxiety physically manifests itself.

“What thoughts and predictions contribute to my anxiety? Do I blush, sweat, shake, or lose my train of thought?” he said.

To deal with stress, Antony advises people challenge their anxious thinking.

“Try to shift the way you think about social situations and look at them the way someone without social anxiety might think about them.”

He also advises people to purposely put themselves in situations which may cause stress so that they become familiar with them.

“One of the most powerful ways to overcome anxiety involves purposely exposing yourself to the situations you fear, over and over again, until you feel more comfortable.”