The Anxious Student or Stressed Student

Anxiety is a normal response to a perceived danger or threat to one’s well-being or self-esteem. For some students, the cause of their anxiety will be clear, but for others it may be difficult to determine. Anxiety is very often a result of the intense academic pressure on students, or a fear of inadequacy regarding some academic challenge. Personal relationships may also be at the root of the concern. Regardless of the cause, one or more of the following symptoms may be experienced: rapid heart beat, difficulty concentrating, chest pain or discomfort, always being “on edge,” dizziness, having difficulty making decisions, sleeping problems, trembling or shaking, being too fearful to take action, and excessive worrying. In rare cases, a student may experience a panic attack in which physical symptoms occur spontaneously and intensely in such a way that the student may fear she/he is dying. Keep in mind this is their perception and know that these physical symptoms will not actually result in death. The following guidelines are appropriate in most cases:

  • Listen and let them express their feeling and thoughts—sincere listening alone often relieves a great deal of 
  • pressure.
  • Remain calm and speak more slowly.
  • If their anxiety stems from the demands of your class, program, or services, provide clear and concrete information regarding how they can meet the expectations.
  • Encourage the student to use available resources 
  • including the Counseling Center and Health Center.
  • Minimize the severity of anxiety symptoms.
  • Overwhelm them with information or ideas to “fix” their condition.
  • Become anxious or overwhelmed yourself.
  • Become frustrated when your suggestions are resisted.