Managing Anxiety

Students will often use the words anxiety and stress interchangeably but there is a huge difference between being stressed and dealing with anxiety. Anxiety is a response to a perceived danger or threat to one’s well-being or self-esteem.

For college students, fear of not doing well in classes, problems with roommates and friends, relationship difficulties and concern about the future can be the source of serious anxiety. While the same things can trigger both anxiety and stress, anxiety can make getting through each day very difficult and sometimes agonizing.

Anxiety disorders are the most common of emotional disorders and affect more than 20 million Americans each year. According to the 2016 USD Student Health Survey, almost 23% of USD students report feeling overwhelming anxiety at some point in the past two weeks — however those that sought help from the USD Counseling Center found their anxiety more manageable.

Take a mental health screening

Anxiety symptoms include: 

Panic Attack symptoms include:    

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread       
  • Constant worrying
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Thinking the worst
  • Irritability
  • Watching for signs of danger
  • Mind going blank
  • Pounding heart
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension


  • Overwhelming panic
  • Feeling of losing control
  • Heart pounding (this may feel like a heart attack)
  • Feeling like you are going to pass out
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hyperventilating
  • Shaking
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Feeling out of touch with reality






Tips for Managing Anxiety:

  1. Meditation and yoga, both have been shown to calm the mind and body. Take a look at what we are doing here on campus and how you can get involved through Campus Recreation with yoga instruction, meditation seminars and a class on the Practice of Mindful Happiness.Sleeping
  2. Develop a healthier and more balanced diet. Junk food, caffeine, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes can have a negative impact on your mood and can increase our anxiety.
  3. Develop stress management and time management skills. These will be helpful in lowering your stress and keeping yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Deep breathing will help lower your heart rate. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then slowly exhale as you count to 10. Deep breathing is a skill and the more you practice the more effective it will become. To help you practice, try listening to our audio guide to deep breathing.
  4. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep.

You can also try using some of these positive coping skills!

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What if trying to manage my anxiety on my own isn’t working?

Many students who are dealing with anxiety find it challenging to manage their anxiety on their own. If you are having a hard time getting through your day due to your anxiety level it may be time to come to the Counseling Center and talk with a therapist.

The Counseling Center is a confidential resource open Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, with extended hours until 6pm on Wednesday during fall and spring semesters. The easiest way to secure an initial consultation is by making a same- or next-day appointment via the Wellness Portal. Students can also call or come by the Counseling Center to arrange for an appointment.

Contact the USD Counseling Center

I need to talk with someone now and the Counseling Center is closed!

If you have an urgent matter or are having thoughts of suicide and the Counseling Center is closed, you can speak with a counselor after-hours by calling the Counseling Center at 619-260-4655, then press ‘1’ to be connected to the counselor on call.