Effective Self-Care Techniques for Students Battling Anxiety

Effective Self-Care Techniques for Students Battling Anxiety

Among the unfortunate multitude of mental health challenges that US students face, anxiety stands out as one of the most common conditions. This pervasive mental health issue can significantly disrupt a person’s daily life, making even the simplest tasks seem daunting and exhausting. In this article, we’ll provide valuable insights into the intersection of US students and anxiety. Beyond outlining essential facts, we’ll offer some practical tips to empower students to manage and overcome feelings of anxiety. Whether you're one of the high school or university students battling anxiety or seeking support for a loved one, these micro strategies are tailored to help you reclaim control and improve overall well-being.

What Is Anxiety?

First of all, let’s consider the terminology. By definition, anxiety is characterized by feelings of unease, worry, or fear, which can vary in intensity from mild to severe. It's something of a universal experience, with everyone encountering it at some point in their lives. For example, no one would be surprised if a student feels anxious before an exam or a test. However, when these feelings of worry persist beyond typical triggering situations and last for more than six months in a row, it signifies an anxiety disorder rather than a normal reaction to a stressful problem.

Is Developing An Anxiety Disorder Common In US Students?

According to the National Education Association (NEA), there are numerous surveys and research studies that highlight a notable increase in anxiety-related concerns among students. This increase is caused by parental/academic pressure, unhealthy social media usage, and elevated societal standards. In addition, many college students suffer the added stress of worrying about practical things, like funding their studies or student loan interest rates. 

Also, the constant presence of smartphones and the pervasive influence of social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have intensified feelings of anxiety and isolation among young people.

Recognize the Importance of Professional Help

Before exploring the undoubtedly helpful self-care strategies, it's essential to acknowledge that, in more serious cases, professional help is sometimes necessary. Anxiety disorders vary widely in their severity and manifestations, making tailored approaches crucial for effective treatment. Consulting a mental health professional can provide personalized strategies and therapies that significantly aid in managing anxiety. In more severe cases, seeking treatment from a reputable inpatient mental health facility may be the best (and only advisable) course of action. These facilities can help with a range of interventions, including psychotherapy, medication, and stress management techniques, ensuring comprehensive care for students battling anxiety.

Effective Self-Care Techniques For Students Battling Anxiety

Luckily, students battling anxiety can overcome and recover from it. Here are some tips on how to cope with daily feelings of fear and worry. 

Listen To Your Body 

When you're feeling anxious, pay attention to how your body reacts. What does it tell you? Do you notice butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, shaky hands, a faster heartbeat, or your muscles tightening? These physical sensations are part of your body's stress response and defense mechanism. In fact, your body’s trying to tell you something’s wrong. 

While these symptoms might be uncomfortable, they aren't harmful, and you can easily manage them. Next time you feel them, try to acknowledge them without getting upset. You don't have to push the feelings away or give them all your attention. Instead, let them exist in the background. 

Practice Breathing Techniques For Relaxation

There’s something you can do to deal with anxious thoughts and feelings in an instant: take a moment to practice slow, deep breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply, then exhale completely. You can count four or five breaths, in and out, using your fingers to help you stay focused. It won’t be long before you notice that you’re somehow feeling alright again.

Here’s how it works: deep breathing can slow the release of stress hormones, helping your body and mind feel more at ease. By directing your attention to your breath, you can ease out the focus on anxious thoughts and feelings and feel more steady and calm.

Stay Active 

Maintaining an active lifestyle is essential for mental wellness. Participate in sports, work out at the gym, or just go outside and observe your environment to keep your mind and body active. Being outside, especially in green areas, can help you feel less anxious and have more mental clarity. Spending time in nature, whether through hiking, brisk walks in parks, or just sitting outside, can help you feel better overall and offers a welcome diversion from the stresses of everyday life.

Adopt A Growth Mindset

Some people have a fixed mindset, believing they're stuck with their current abilities or limitations, like feeling too anxious to speak up in class. However, neuroscience suggests otherwise. It reveals our brain's remarkable ability to adapt and learn new responses. Embracing a growth mindset means acknowledging that improvement is possible with effort and practice, including managing conditions like anxiety.

Keep A Diary 

Turning your thoughts into words and then those words into sentences can be a powerful way to manage anxiety. Keeping a diary can help you transform negative feelings into something positive and valuable. Writing down your thoughts and emotions allows you to process them, providing clarity and relief. It’s a creative outlet that can turn your experiences into art, helping you gain perspective and find meaning in your struggles. Regular journaling can be a therapeutic practice that fosters self-awareness and emotional well-being.

Reach Out For Support To The People You Love

This one goes out to college students: university life is often a time to prove your independence, but being away from home doesn't mean you should lose touch with friends and family. Staying connected with loved ones (your support system) and being honest about how you feel can significantly alleviate anxiety. Lean on your support network because they're there to help you through tough times. Regular calls, texts, or visits can provide comfort, reduce feelings of isolation, and remind you that you're not alone in your struggles. 


Being a student today and meeting numerous societal expectations is challenging. But remember, you can manage these challenges by practicing the tips we've shared. However, if these strategies don't help, please don't hesitate to contact professionals for support. Ultimately, reaching out for support is an act of courage that can lead to profound growth and well-being for students battling anxiety.