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How to Deal With Anxiety in College: What We Know and How to Cope With It

anxiety in college student

Navigating the transition to college can be an exciting yet stressful time for students and their families. While it offers newfound independence, opportunities for personal growth, and exposure to new ideas, it also brings about significant changes and challenges. Among these challenges, anxiety tends to be a common experience for many college students. However, it's important to understand that anxiety during the college years is a normal and understandable response to the various adjustments and demands that come with this phase of life.

With the help of anxiety therapy for young adults, you can navigate anxious and challenging thoughts to a more positive manner and live your college life to the fullest. Here in this blog, we have compiled all the important strategies on how to deal with anxiety and ways to get over it with the help of both self-help and therapeutic ways.    

So let's not wait longer and get right into the article.

How to Deal With Anxiety in College Students: 10 Helpful Coping Strategies

Many college students experience mental health conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or difficulty managing life's demands. Knowing you're not alone in your anxious feelings is important. If you're a student, parent, or administrator, our tips on managing anxiety in college could be helpful. To help you deal with anxiety, we've compiled ten strategies that may be useful. It's a good idea to consider these strategies even if you haven't started college yet.


Find support from people you're close to

When you're going through a tough time, it's crucial to find people who can understand and support you. Talking to someone who will listen without judgment can be a huge relief. Consider reaching out to family members, friends, or mentors for support. College counseling services and support groups can also provide valuable resources. They offer a safe and confidential environment to discuss your concerns and receive professional guidance.

Practice relaxation techniques

Engaging in relaxation techniques can help you manage anxiety and promote a sense of calm. You can practice deep breathing exercises anytime and anywhere by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Meditation and mindfulness exercises allow you to focus on the present moment, reducing anxiety. Yoga combines physical movement and breathing techniques to relieve stress. Progressive muscle relaxation includes tensing and releasing different muscle groups to promote relaxation.

Prioritize self-care

It's important to prioritize your physical and mental health to manage anxiety effectively. Make time for activities that promote self-care. Engage in regular exercise, whether going for a walk, hitting the gym, or practicing a sport you enjoy. Make sure to allocate some time for hobbies, creative pursuits, or any activities that make you happy and help you unwind. Ensure you get enough sleep by aiming for a consistent sleep schedule, and maintain a balanced diet by including nutritious foods and staying hydrated.

Practice time management

When you have a lot of academic work, it can make you anxious. It's helpful to improve your time management skills to reduce this stress. Setting realistic goals and breaking down bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps is essential. You can create a schedule or use a planner to prioritize your tasks and dedicate specific times to studying, completing assignments, and other commitments. This organization technique will make it easier for you to stay focused and make progress, ultimately reducing your anxiety.

Set boundaries for yourself

Establishing healthy boundaries and knowing when to say no is crucial for managing stress and anxiety. It's essential to prioritize self-care and avoid taking on more than you can handle. Recognize your limits and communicate them confidently. By setting boundaries, you can effectively manage your time and energy, decreasing the chances of experiencing burnout.

Challenge negative thinking

Negative thoughts and irrational beliefs can fuel anxiety. Learn to recognize and challenge these thoughts. Before concluding, consider whether there is sufficient evidence to support them or if they are based on assumptions- practice reframing negative thoughts by replacing them with more positive and realistic perspectives. Developing a more balanced and constructive thinking pattern can help reduce anxiety and promote a healthier mindset. Focus on your strengths, achievements, and previous successes, significantly making your college life stress-free.

Practice stress management techniques

Engaging in stress-reducing activities can help you manage anxiety effectively. Find leisure activities that bring you a sense of calm and integrate them into your daily routine. You can listen to calming music, pursue creative hobbies like painting or writing, play musical instruments, spend time in nature, or do activities you enjoy. These positive distractions can be excellent stress-busters for your busy college life.

Maintain a support network

Surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals who uplift you. Having people who understand and encourage you can significantly contribute to your well-being. Build connections within the college community by joining clubs, organizations, or interest groups that align with your passions. Engaging with like-minded individuals who share your interests can foster a sense of belonging and provide a valuable support network.

Seek professional help from a therapist or a counselor

If your anxiety is severely affecting your daily life and you're struggling to cope on your own, it's essential to seek help from a mental health professional. They're specifically trained to provide personalized guidance and therapy that meets your needs. They can offer effective strategies to manage your anxiety, help you develop coping mechanisms, and even discuss medication options if needed.

Balance academics and leisure

Balancing your academic work with leisure activities is important. Taking breaks, pursuing hobbies, and socializing are essential for your well-being. By including enjoyable activities in your college experience, you can reduce anxiety and maintain a healthier perspective. For example, if you enjoy playing sports, consider joining a recreational league on campus or finding a group of friends to play with regularly. This will not only provide a fun way to stay active but also give you a chance to socialize and make new connections.

College Students' Anxiety is Rising

Anxiety among college students is a well-documented phenomenon that has received increasing attention recently. Research suggests that anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health concerns experienced by college students.

The 2018 National College Health Assessment by the American College Health Association revealed that approximately 63% of college students in the US experienced overwhelming anxiety symptoms, while only 23% sought assistance from a mental health expert.

Transitioning to college life can be challenging, with academic demands, social shifts, financial responsibilities, and greater freedom all playing a role. These stressors and high expectations placed on students can contribute to developing or exacerbating anxiety symptoms.

What Triggers Anxiety in College Students?

College students nowadays appear to be more stressed and anxious than ever before. This time of life can be difficult for many young adults. In the United States, some research shows a decrease in psychological well-being among adolescents over the past several years.

It's unclear what is causing this trend. However, time spent on electronic communication and reduced well-being among adolescents may be interconnected. Mentioned below are some common factors that can trigger anxiety in college students:


Academic pressures

College students often experience intense academic pressures that can contribute to anxiety. The demands of coursework, exams, and assignments can be overwhelming, especially with high expectations for success. The fear of failure and the desire to maintain high grades can create a constant sense of pressure and anxiety. The competitive nature of some academic environments and the belief that academic performance defines one's worth can further intensify the anxiety experienced by students.


Transition and adjustment

The transition from high school to college presents a significant life change that can be challenging for many students. Adapting to a new academic system, unfamiliar routines, and increased independence can be overwhelming. You may feel homesick and miss your previous environment's familiarity and support systems. Additionally, making new friends, finding social groups, and establishing a sense of belonging in a new environment can be anxiety-inducing. Time management can also become a stressor as you navigate increased responsibilities and the need to balance academics, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and personal commitments.

Financial concerns

Financial stress is a common experience for college students. Tuition fees, student loans, and the need to cover living expenses can create significant financial pressures. Balancing the demands of part-time jobs with academic responsibilities can be challenging and lead to anxiety about meeting financial obligations. The uncertainty of the future and concerns about job prospects after graduation can further contribute to financial anxiety.


Social pressures

College is a time of social exploration and new social dynamics. Students may face peer pressure, the need to fit in, and the fear of being judged by others. Social anxiety can arise from the pressure to form new friendships or maintain existing ones. The desire for social acceptance and fear of rejection can contribute to anxiety and self-doubt.


Future uncertainty

College is a critical period for deciding career paths and goals. The uncertainty surrounding post-graduation plans, job prospects, and fulfilling societal or familial expectations can be overwhelming. The pressure to choose the "right" major, make successful career choices, and establish a secure future can generate anxiety and self-doubt.



Some college students have high standards for themselves and strive for perfection. If you are someone with a similar thought process, the constant pursuit of perfection can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, leading to increased stress and anxiety. The fear of making mistakes, not meeting their or others' expectations, and the pressure to excel in academics and other areas of life can contribute to anxiety.


Lack of support systems

Feeling isolated or disconnected from family, friends, or a support network can exacerbate anxiety in college students. The absence of a strong support system can leave you feeling overwhelmed and without the necessary guidance and assistance to navigate the various stressors you encounter. Limited access to mental health resources or inadequate support from the college itself can also contribute to the challenges faced by students.

As a college student, understanding these triggers can be helpful for you, your parents, educators, and support services to develop effective strategies to address anxiety and promote your well-being. It is crucial to provide resources, create supportive environments, and encourage open discussions about mental health to ensure students can cope with these challenges and thrive in college.

What are the Indicators of Anxiety in College Students?

It's crucial to address anxiety as it can greatly affect your overall well-being. With the pressures of academic performance and social interactions, it's no surprise that anxiety is a common issue among students. That is why you can better support and care for yourself if you're struggling by understanding how anxiety manifests in college students. Let's examine how anxiety impacts students physically, cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally.


How to Deal With Anxiety in College: 5 Things You Should Avoid

Knowing how to manage anxiety positively is key when feeling stressed and overwhelmed during your college years. If you're struggling with anxiety while in college, it's crucial to understand what actions to avoid to maintain your overall health. To ensure your mental and emotional well-being, it's best to steer clear of the following five things, and here's why:

1. Self-isolation

When feeling anxious, feeling like you can't handle social situations and want to be alone is normal. However, isolating yourself can make things worse. It's essential to reach out to people who care about you, like friends, family, or mental health professionals. They can offer support, guidance, and a sense of belonging that can help ease your anxiety.

2. Excessive alcohol or substance use

While turning to alcohol or drugs may temporarily relieve anxiety, it can lead to negative consequences. Substance use can worsen anxiety symptoms, create dependency, and make it difficult to manage stress effectively. It is essential to find healthier coping mechanisms and seek professional help if necessary to manage anxiety better.

3. Excessive caffeine consumption

If you consume caffeine through coffee, energy drinks, or certain teas, it can make you feel more anxious or restless. This is because caffeine is a stimulant that worsens anxiety symptoms and affects sleep patterns. To maintain a healthy balance and improve your well-being, consider reducing your caffeine intake or switching to decaffeinated options.

4. Excessive academic pressure

Although academic achievement is important, putting too much pressure on oneself can increase anxiety levels. It can be overwhelming to set unattainable goals, constantly pursue perfection, and take on an excessive workload. It is better to establish attainable targets, divide assignments into smaller, more manageable portions, show self-compassion, and balance academic and self-care activities to avoid this.

5. Negative self-talk

Negative self-talk and self-criticism can significantly impact your mental well-being and intensify anxiety. Harshly judging yourself, focusing on perceived failures, and engaging in negative internal dialogue can reinforce anxious thoughts and feelings. It's important to be mindful of your inner dialogue and challenge negative thoughts with more positive and realistic perspectives. It's crucial to be kind to yourself, recognize your abilities and achievements, and reach out to people who can provide you with positivity and affirmation.

Managing anxiety can be challenging, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. By avoiding certain behaviors and seeking professional help from a therapist or college counselor, you can establish a supportive and healthy environment to cope with anxiety. Everyone's experience with anxiety is unique, so don't hesitate to reach out for assistance. Let's work together to prioritize your mental health and well-being!

How to Find a Therapist to Help You Deal With Anxiety in College?


If you're experiencing anxiety while in college and need a therapist, it's crucial to invest time in finding the best fit for you. Seeking therapy is a proactive way to improve your well-being, and with the right support, you can develop effective coping strategies. Feel free to explore different options and seek guidance from your college counseling center if you need help figuring out where to start. Here are some steps to follow to help you find the right therapist:

Research your college's resources

To take care of your mental health, begin by checking out the resources available on your college campus. Most colleges provide counseling centers or mental health services tailored to support students. You can visit their website or contact the counseling center to learn more about their services and how to schedule an appointment.

Seek recommendations

Consider reaching out to friends, classmates, or faculty members who have used therapy services on or off campus. They can offer valuable insights and recommend therapists who have been helpful to them. Personal recommendations are precious when searching for a therapist who specializes in anxiety or has experience working with college students.

Utilize online directories

If you're looking for a therapist in your area, online directories or your local mental health association's website can be helpful. These directories allow you to filter your search based on location, specialty areas, insurance coverage, and other preferences. You can read therapists' profiles to check their credentials and look for those who specialize in anxiety or have experience working with college students.

Check with your insurance provider

If you possess health insurance, it would be helpful to get in touch with your insurance provider to comprehend the extent of your mental health coverage. They can provide a directory of therapists who accept your insurance, enabling you to locate an affordable therapist within your network.

Schedule consultations

After compiling a list of potential therapists, it's recommended to schedule initial consultations with a few. This is because many therapists offer a free initial phone call or a reduced-rate session to determine whether they fit you well. During this time, feel free to ask questions about their approach to therapy, their experience working with college students and anxiety, and their availability. Finding a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and supported is essential.

Consider accessibility and logistics

When selecting a therapist, it's essential to take into account the therapist's location, whether they offer in-person or online sessions, and how frequently they can schedule sessions that work with your availability. Opting for a therapist who is accessible and convenient can help you stay committed to your therapy sessions and prioritize your mental well-being.

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College can often be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but fear not! You're not alone, and plenty of ways to manage anxiety effectively exist. Have you tried relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation? How about challenging negative thoughts or engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga or exercise? It's also essential to take care of yourself by maintaining a healthy balance between academic and leisure activities. And don't forget about your support network! Seeking guidance from friends, family, or college counseling services can provide invaluable support and someone to talk to. With time, patience, and a little effort, you can overcome college anxiety and thrive in your college experience. So why not give it a try?

If you're a college student dealing with anxiety, consider contacting Lifebulb, an organization dedicated to supporting students' mental well-being. Lifebulb offers resources, therapy, counseling, and a supportive community to help you navigate through college anxiety. Don't hesitate to contact Lifebulb for assistance to thrive in your college journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Parents and administrators can be crucial in supporting college students dealing with anxiety. Parents can maintain open communication with their children, offering a listening ear and reassurance while acknowledging the challenges of college life. They can encourage their child to seek support from college counseling services or mental health professionals and help them establish healthy coping mechanisms and self-care practices.

On the other hand, administrators can promote awareness of mental health issues and create a supportive campus culture. They can provide accessible and well-funded counseling services on campus, implement stress reduction initiatives, and train faculty and staff to recognize signs of anxiety and offer support. By working together, parents and administrators can create an environment that promotes mental well-being, offers support, and helps college students navigate anxiety effectively.

Anxiety levels are often high in college students due to a combination of academic pressures, the transition and adjustment to college life, financial concerns, social pressures, future uncertainty, perfectionism, and a lack of support systems. The demanding coursework, fear of failure, and pressure to succeed academically contribute to anxiety. The transition from high school to college, new responsibilities, and social dynamics can be overwhelming. Financial stress and the uncertainty of the future also add to anxiety

Additionally, the high expectations students place on themselves, coupled with a lack of support systems, can further contribute to heightened anxiety levels. Recognizing these factors and implementing support systems and mental health resources can help address and manage anxiety in college students.

Anxiety in college can potentially lead to developing or worsening social anxiety disorder. College students experiencing anxiety may already have a heightened sensitivity to social situations and fear of negative evaluation. If left unaddressed, this anxiety can escalate and manifest as social anxiety disorder, where individuals have an intense fear of embarrassment, judgment, or humiliation in social settings.

College life can intensify anxiety due to social pressures and demands, including meeting new friends, engaging in group activities, and speaking in public. Over time, persistent avoidance of social situations and the negative impact on daily functioning can contribute to the development of social anxiety disorder. Recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate support to address anxiety in college and prevent its progression into social anxiety disorder is essential.

 Academic stress can be overwhelming, but there are several strategies you can try to cope with it:

  • Time Management: Create a schedule or to-do list to prioritize tasks and allocate time for studying, assignments, and self-care.

  • Self-Care: Take breaks, get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, and engage in activities you enjoy to recharge and maintain overall well-being.


  • Support System: Talk to friends, family, or a trusted mentor about your stress and seek their support and advice.

  • Seek Assistance: If you're struggling with academic pressure, reach out to counselors, tutors, or academic advisors who can provide guidance and resources.

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practice deep breathing, meditation, or other relaxation exercises to calm your mind and reduce stress.

  • Remember that everyone copes with stress differently, so find what works best for you. Seeking support from a therapist can also provide valuable tools to manage academic stress effectively.

     The 5 A's of stress management offer a framework to cope with stress and build resilience:

  • Awareness: Recognize the signs of stress and acknowledge your emotional and physical responses.

  • Acceptance: Accept that stress is a part of life and that it's okay to feel stressed. Avoid self-judgment and practice self-compassion.

  • Assessment: Identify the sources of your stress and evaluate their significance, distinguishing between what you can and cannot control.

  • Action: Take proactive steps to manage stress, such as setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and employing stress reduction techniques like mindfulness or exercise.

  • Adaptation: Adapt to stressful situations by adjusting your mindset, seeking support, and adopting healthy coping strategies.

  • By practicing the 5 A's of stress management, you can cultivate greater self-awareness, reduce the impact of stress, and foster resilience in the face of challenges.

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