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Stress & Anxiety

As college students you may experience a multitude of stressors, including but not limited to meeting academic deadlines, adjusting to a new living situation, and/or developing new social relationships. Anxiety and stress are normal responses to situations; however, when anxiety levels increase significantly, they can be quite disruptive to our health and social lives.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is often linked to stressful events in our lives, and more specifically to how we respond to and interpret those events.  Everyone differs in the ways that they perceive, interpret, and respond to anxiety. For example, public speaking may be quite anxiety-provoking for some, but motivating and exciting 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, "It will be awful if I don't do well on this speech" (cognitive response), and you may end up ending your speech early (behavioral response). 

Physiological Responses

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

Cognitive Responses

  • Low self-esteem; self-criticism
  • 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
  • Acting impulsively
  • Startling easily
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Being more susceptible to accidents
  • Losing your appetite or overeating

How do I manage stress?

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

  • Become aware of your own reactions to stress.
  • Use positive self-statements in your thoughts.
  • Focus on your good qualities and accomplishments.
  • Develop assertive behaviors.
  • Recognize and accept your limits. Remember that everyone is unique, different, and imperfect.
  • Set aside some time on a regular basis for a hobby or other healthy and relaxing activity.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a balanced diet daily.
  • Spend time with supportive friends and family.
  • Talk with trusted supports 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.
  • Contact Counseling Services for additional help and support.

Guide to Effective Stress & Anxiety Management


Guided Meditations:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

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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