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How A Buddhist Monk, A Dead Philosopher, and Tiktok Helped An Anxious College Student

Tiktok helped me control my anxiety. Very weird I know but hear me out.

I am someone who has struggled with mental health and anxiety. Being a senior in college has seemed to make it worse. I find myself stressed about everything:

Will I be able to get my work done? Should I not do my work so I can see my friends? Am I going to fail and get left back if I do hangout with my friends? Do I even have time to live in the moment while I’m still in college? What do I actually want to do with my life? How can I find happiness in having to stay in a career until I’m a senior citizen? Will moving back home be too hard? Will I get stuck in a job I hate? What am I even going to have for dinner tonight?

You get the point. It’s an endless cycle of overthinking in my brain, and the pressure of graduating only added onto it.

As I have grown up and been in college, I have found ways to better my anxiety that work for me. But new life changes and unexpected circumstances can make it not so simple to relieve. Interestingly enough though, my ‘For You Page’ (FYP) on TikTok helped bring new perspectives and relief I never thought possible. Buddhist monks, philosophers, book reviewers, and more have helped me practice mindfulness and taking control over those negative thoughts.

Venerable the Buddhist Monk

Anxiety is the apprehension of the future and depression is the recycling of the past. While this can be oversimplified, it really connected for me. Hearing this basic breakdown was so profound and enlightening. I felt a lot more aware of my emotions and like I could better control them because of that.

Remember to catch your mind jumping

After watching this video, whenever I would begin to overthink or get anxious about my future or a situation, I started becoming aware of my breath and aware of my ‘mind jumping’. To calm my mind, I try and feel the present second: I look around and focus on the fact that I am breathing in this seat, in this room, with these people, in this moment. The pressure of things can kind of slip away when you are focused on the present.

“101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think” by Brianna Wiest

Now this one really tripped me up. Almost everyone has heard the cheesy saying “Live in the moment!”, but this made it feel much more real. The pressure of knowing exactly what I, as a 21-year-old, is supposed to do for the rest of my life is not only hard and stressful, but its psychologically impossible. Our brains can only perceive based on what it knows and the future itself is an unknown concept.

This idea that we should be able to know how to solve everything and have all the answers is just not possible. Life is unpredictable and figuring out the future usually is too.

So when you’re wondering why things don’t work out how you planned, it’s because that situation was something you never experienced before so of course your brain wasn’t predicting it!

“The idea that the only thing that exists is this moment, and it’s not really an idea; the only thing that exists IS this moment! So what can make you happy in this moment is what you have to ask yourself”

You can only be sure of what will make you happy right now, so the stress of the past or future can’t be planned or completely predicted. And that is strangely comforting.

Marcus Aurelius

Momento Mori. It sounds morbid, but this is similar to an older practice I have used to calm my anxiety. I would ask myself:

‘Will this matter in 5 years, 10 years, a week?'

and often it didn’t and would help calm me down. It would put things into a more sincere perspective.

Marcus Aurelius uses death here to put things into perspective. One thing in this world that is certain for everyone is death. Taking death and helping it in life’s anxieties, frustrations, and upsets is genius. ‘I am going to die, so why am I stressing over this past conversation? I am going to die.’ A lot of worries and moments get placed in an entirely new box within my mind when I remind myself of the only thing that’s definite.

Why am I crying over this? Why am I letting it get to me? Why am I angry? Momento Mori.

Breathing: Dr. Huberman

Deep breaths are some of the most reliable remedies for stress and worries. This one is simple but so effective. The next time I faced fast moments of anxiety, I practiced this breathing exercise and it did wonders.

3 cycles of this breathing and my chest felt a little lighter already.

The mind is very powerful and can be a scary place, but it is also the amazing part of you that can help it be a little brighter. Anxiety and mental health isn’t always so simple to calm; 4 Tiktoks aren’t going to solve all my life’s problems.

But learning different perspectives and ways to cope and better myself, like videos on Tiktok, are always beautiful steps to take. Even looking for advice on YouTube, through books, and more can help you find new perspectives and coping remedies for stress and anxiety.


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