Coping with Anxiety in University: 10 Tips for Staying Balanced

As I think about my life to date I can remember always being the one who worried too much, who stressed very easily and had “What if…” scenarios for all the scenarios. I was the kid who avoided sleepovers, shied away from crowds and constantly worried about what people thought of me. It was in university that I truly realized that the worry was beyond normal levels. I started to see that things I worried about were controlling me and I was out of control.

With the start of university comes bigger classes, more papers, more tests and more presentations. What if you have test anxiety? What if you hate crowds? What if presenting in front of people causes you to sweat, have stomach issues and panic?

I have two degrees. I can remember at one point in my third year of my first degree walking down the famous “link” that connected the academic center and the library…I was going to the library but did not make it to the library. I actually swore I was having a heart attack. My chest hurt and I couldn’t breathe right. I slowed down, called my mom and left school for the day. I had four papers due and exams coming. It was a panic attack. Somehow, I ended up getting it all done but not before getting help. I was 22 years old when I heard I had “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” and a chemical imbalance of the brain.  My second degree I went in knowing about my stresses and the way I coped (or perhaps did not cope) and I made some changes in study habits and methods making things a bit easier to deal with. I am writing today to share some tips that will hopefully help make the university life style a little less stressful.

  1. Take care of you!

Self care is so important. It will be a busy time with life demands, school demands; family and maybe work demands but to make it all work – You must take care of you! This includes eating right, getting proper rest, taking breaks, listening to your body and not isolating yourself.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help…

If you are having trouble in a class – ask for help! If you get help early on it will likely increase your grades, decrease your stress and help you later in the class. If you are feeling overwhelmed talk to someone. It is ok to need help. It does not make you weak and it takes a strong person to recognize their needs and ask for help!

  1. Take a break!

Going along with taking care of you – breaks are so important. This could mean taking a day away from studying, attending a social event once a week, playing a sport or taking quiet time. Anything really – just step away from the work and recharge your battery.

  1. Lessen your demands

If life allows – lesson your load. This could be studying part-time, cutting hours at work, or slowing down on extra curricular or volunteer work.

  1. Utilize services your school may offer

Universities often have health offices or student services which include counselling services and teaching things such as time management, study skills or tutoring. These services are often provided for free. Seek them out and remember it is ok to ask for help!

  1. Take advantage of office hours

If your professor/teacher offers office hours and you need help in anyway go visit that office. Office hours are there to connect with your instructor, to get questions answered and to get help if you need it.

  1. Be mindful…

Take time to meditate. Slow down, be quiet, listen to your body and observe what is happening around you. Are you stressed? Are you anxious? Are you feeling drained? Maybe it is time to return to Number 1 and take care of you!

  1. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to de-stress! Get that body moving for increased health and more!

  1. Join your society or social club

If your program has a society – it may be great to check out. You will get to connect to people with similar interests and in the same classes. You may gain study buddies and access to social events as well as connecting to others in your field and making life long friends.

  1. And finally go back to number 1 & 2…

Always take care of yourself and NEVER be afraid to ask for help.


I hope you all find these tips helpful and good luck in the upcoming academic year.


Lisa is a mom and a child and youth care worker. She sees the potential in others and likes to go beyond labels. She has anxiety disorder that sometimes hits various areas of her life. She has discovered mindfulness practice and it has become a great source of relaxation. Lisa would like to share stories, motivate and encourage others to become the best version of themselves. Lisa loves reading, music, Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, family time, nature and people.
You can follow Lisa on Facebook and Twitter.

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