Anxiety, if left untreated, is a mental illness that can negatively impact a student’s life in various ways. However, anxiety can usually be managed with professional help. It is important to realize that although anxiety is a serious issue, it is not uncommon. If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, you are not alone.
Nationally and at TCU, anxiety is one of the top impediments to academic performance. Although this rate is lower than the national average for college students, anxiety is still an important issue at for students at TCU. If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety in some form, check below to identify symptoms of anxiety and tips to manage it.
The difference between stress and anxiety:
Anxiety and stress are often thought of as interchangeable, but in reality they are two different experiences.
- Stress is often situational resulting from a busy schedule, an upcoming exam, roommate issues, or a variety of other circumstances. Stress in our everyday lives is associated with frustration and nervousness.
- Anxiety can be triggered by specific occurrences, but it is not situational the same way as stress. The source of anxiety is typically much less clear than stress, or sometimes completely unknown.
- NOTE: The severity of an anxiety response is often stronger than a stress response. It often has physical symptoms, where stress usually doesn’t. Symptoms of anxiety can include shaking, nausea, and increased heart rate.
Anxiety is associated with feelings of fear, unease, and worry. Stress is typically a temporary reaction to different situations, but anxiety is a serious disorder that warrants professional help.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Anxiety Management Tips:
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. This has the potential to aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When anxious, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise. Making physical activity a daily habit can help you feel good and maintain your health.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of your best effort.
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stressors.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you.
Treatments for Anxiety:
Although the list above can help manage anxiety, sometimes professional help is best. Some common treatments for generalized anxiety are counseling and medications. TCU students can seek help from professionals at the Counseling and Mental Health Center on campus in the lower level of Samuelson Hall. Here students may be helped by licensed counselors to determine a plan for coping with anxiety or referred to a community professional for personalized help.
If a student is in need of immediate counseling TCU Counseling and Mental Health Center has a 24/7 counseling line that offers telephone counseling to all TCU students anytime, day or night, and even during semester breaks. If you feel the need to talk with a counselor, please call 817-257-SAFE (7233).
For more information, head to the TCU Counseling and Mental Health Center website https://counseling.tcu.edu/treatment-services/