Stress and Anxiety

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

According to recent studies, nearly one in six college students have been diagnosed with/treated for anxiety and more than 20% report that anxiety affects their academic performance. And right here at UA, more than 60% of the students surveyed at Counseling and Psych Services (CAPS) said they came in for help with anxiety.  

If tension, worry, or even panic get in your way, know that you’re not alone and there’s something you can do about it.

Try these simple tricks to deal with anxiety:

Take a deep breath from your belly and exhale slowly to calm down and refocus your mind.

If you’re overwhelmed or stuck, break up large problems or tasks into concrete, bite-sized chunks.

If you’re stuck in “what if,” worried thinking, refocus on what information, resources, and solutions are available to you now.

Pull yourself out of worried, overthinking mode by writing down what you're thinking and looking for the answerable questions. If your worries are not answerable, try rephrasing them in a way that can be answered. For example, the worry what if I fail can be rephrased as what are the requirements to stay in my major or keep my scholarship, what are my options for retaking this class, and can I meet with my advisor to check in on my progress.

Anxiety focuses on problems. Shift your mind toward solutions. If anxiety has you thinking "yeah, but that won't work," set a timer for about 10 minutes and brainstorm as many solutions as you can - without editing or analyzing them. After your 10 minutes are up, choose 1 that sounds good enough and take a step in that direction.

Take breaks during the day to move or stretch. Walking around the building, taking the stairs, jumping in place, or dancing to your favorite song can all help release pent-up anxious energy.

Cleaning up your sleeping and eating habits are two simple but powerful ways to improve your anxiety and response to stress. Try to keep a reasonably consistent sleeping and eating schedule, even on weekends. Do what you can to eat well-balanced, nourishing, and satisfying meals and keep a healthy snack handy for your long days. If you're having trouble falling asleep at night, try to incorporate time to wind-down at the end of the day, and reduce screen time in the hour or so before bed. 

If you’re hard on yourself or worried about what others think, give yourself a big dose of kindness by remembering your strengths and encouraging yourself in a tough situation.

Ready to learn more?

Talk to a counselor:

Learn more about getting started at CAPS. And find out more about the Calm Body, Calm Mind Panic & Anxiety Group and Tools for Triumph Workshop Series.

Enroll in TAO Self-Help. (It's free!)

TAO has self-help modules on calming your worry and letting go of stress in challenging situations. Enrollment in TAO is free for UA students!


Stress less and succeed with these CAPS videos and presentations for stress and anxiety:

How to Stop Worrying: 5 Simple Tips

Finding Balance (Even in School)

Boost Confidence & Beat Social Anxiety

Perform Under Pressure: Tackle Test Anxiety Using Performance Science

Eat My Dust, Test Anxiety: 7 Steps to Tackle Test Anxiety, Channel Your Inner Elvis, and OWN That Exam presentation

Stress Less: Take a Pause and Breathe presentation


Find out more about managing stress and anxiety with these self-help articles: 

6 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety in Public Places on Very Well Mind

Dealing with Worry and Anxiety on This Way Up

11 Tips for Anxiety Sufferers on Calm Clinic


Or try one of these free stress-relieving apps for Android and iPhone:

Stressbusters Wellness, U of A Edition: audio tracks, relaxation, meditation, events.

Headspace: Meditation and Mindfulness Made Simple

Stop, Breath & Think: 5 minutes to peace


Go back for more self-help resources from CAPS