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Stress & Anxiety

As college students, you may experience a multitude of stressors, including but not limited to, meeting academic pressures, adjusting to a new living situation, and/or developing new social relationships. Anxiety and stress are normal responses to situations; however, when anxiety llevels increase significantly, medical and social problems can result.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is not necessarily caused by external events because the events themselves are not stressful. But rather, anxiety is caused by our human response and interpretation of such events. Everyone differs significantly in the ways that they perceive, interpret, and respond to anxiety. For example, public speaking may be very anxiety-provoking for some, but motivating for others.

How do I know if I am stressed/anxious?

There are many signs/symptoms of stress or anxiety. In terms of anxiety, everyone has a physiological, cognitive, and behavioral response to stressful events. For example, public speaking may be anxiety provoking for you--you may notice that your palms are sweating (physiological response), you may be thinking, "I hope I get a good grade on this speech" (cognitive response), and you may wipe your sweaty hands on your nice dress pants (behavioral response). 

Physiological Responses

  • Perspiration/sweaty hands
  • Increased heart beat
  • Trembling
  • Nervous ticks
  • Dryness of throat and mouth
  • Tiring easily
  • Urinating frequently
  • Sleeping problems
  • Diarrhea/indigestion/vomiting
  • Butterflies in stomach
  • Headaches
  • Premenstrual tension
  • Pain in the neck and or lower back
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Susceptibility to illness

Cognitive Responses

  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of failure
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Embarrassing easily
  • Worrying about the future
  • Preoccupation with thoughts/tasks
  • Forgetfulness

Behavioral Responses

  • Stuttering and other speech difficulties
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Acting impulsively
  • Startling easily
  • Laughing in a high pitch and nervous tone of voice
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Increasing smoking
  • Increasing use of drugs and alcohol
  • Being more susceptible to accidents
  • Losing your appetite or overeating

How do I manage stress?

Everyone manages anxiety differently; however, below are general techniques that you can use to remain calm and focused:

  • Become aware of your own reactions to stress.
  • Reinforce positive self-statements.
  • Focus on your good qualities and accomplishments.
  • Develop assertive behaviors.
  • Recognize and accept your limits. Remember that everyone is unique and different.
  • Get a hobby or two. Relax and have fun.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a balanced diet daily.
  • Talk with friends or someone you can trust about your worries/problems.
  • Learn to use your time wisely:
    • Evaluate how you are budgeting your time.
    • Plan ahead and avoid procrastination.
    • Make a weekly schedule and try to follow it.
    • Set realistic goals.
    • Set priorities.
  • When studying for an exam, study in short blocks and gradually lengthen the time you spend studying. Take frequent short breaks.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. For example, whenever you feel tense, slowly breathe in and out for several minutes.

Guide to Effective Stress & Anxiety Management


SIUE Counseling Services


Open M-F 8am-4:30pm

SIUE Health Services


Open M-F 8a-4:30pm

Other Resources

Center for Anxiety and Stress Treatment

Social Anxiety Home Page

Panic Disorder Home Page

General Anxiety Home Page

Anxiety and Panic Resource

Time Management ( University of Iowa)

Preventing Perfectionism ( SUNY at Buffalo)

Books on Anxiety and Worry

  • The Imp of the Mind by Lee Baer
  • Getting Control by Lee Baer
  • Mastery of your Anxiety and Worry by David H. Barlow & Michelle G. Craske
  • Mastery of your Anxiety and Worry 2nd Edition by David H. Barlow, Michelle G. Craske & Richard E. Zinbarg
  • Worry by Edward M. Hallowell
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